Tengger Cavalry – “Cian Bi”

Tengger Cavalry – “Cian Bi” (Napalm Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

With an ambition that could’ve been inspired by Genghis Khan himself, the travels of one Nature Ganganbaigal, creator of Mongolian folk metal band, have taken him from Beijing to New York City, where he sold out Carnegie Hall, got himself a masters from NYU in film music composition and was nominated for Best Original Score at the 2015 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards! Tengger Cavalry is no less an achievement. Creating a unique sound melding modern western metal with ancient folk from the Mongolian steppes through traditional instruments like the horsehead fiddle and topshur lute, not to mention the traditional sound of throat singing, Tengger Cavalry’s success has seen them grow from an underground act signed by Battlehelm’s own high priest Josh Cook on his Metal Hell Records label to now, a 6th album debuting on Napalm Records! Delivering across a vast 15 tracks to match the Mongol hordes themselves, Nature has over time built himself a multi national force who execute to perfection a breathtaking range of sounds that are either more folkloric in their sound, erring more towards metal with hints of folk, or just comfortably nestled between the two! The guitars of Nature and Patrick Reilly are raw and harsh, and when they start to inject the power like on ‘Redefine’ its pretty close to the aggressive chundering groove of Ektomorf, or hinting at industrial when considering the chopping rhythms and dance beats on ‘One Tribe, Beyond Any Nation’ while getting far out on the eastern grunge through the mellow ‘Just Forgive’, not forgetting the film score-ish spoken word of ‘You And I, Under The Same Sky’. Lyrically and conceptually still rooted in Mongolian and Turkic cultures that include shamanism, nature and worship of Tengri (from whom the band’s name is derived) the instrumental skill and co-ordination is incredible, especially given how the differing sounds make the songs unpredictable and exciting while not forgetting their roots of being energetic and rousing in the passion like on ‘Chasing My Horse’ and ‘Ride Into Grave And Glory’, both of which will no doubt appeal to long time followers of the band. Once called the scourge of Europe and western civilisation, Tengger Cavalry are no less lacking in that fierceness along with an equally jaw dropping dexterity of their once mighty ancestors!

Ilsa – “Corpse Fortress”

Ilsa – “Corpse Fortress” (Relapse Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Appropriately hailing from the nation’s capital, Ilsa serve up some of the best death/doom/crust on the planet! These guys have been going since 2008 and “Corpse Fortress” is their 5th album, showing no signs of any let up whatsoever. Hewn in some unspeakable place, this abomination has been force fed large doses of Darkthrone, EyeHateGod, Iron Monkey, Celtic Frost and of course, Death, taking in the best of ’em and mixing it up nastily to produce some of the most awesome nuclear waste dirge you’re ever likely to hear. Think reverb drenched sludge with just the right doses of feedback to send you clawing at the walls, along with Orion’s horror shrieks and Joshy’s double bass beats inducing the right d-beat groove and you’ll be pretty close to the 9 tracks here. From the ultra grim ‘Cosmos Antinomos’ with its tribal beats mixing with some crucial diddly dee riffing as Orion’s raw screamo drawls deliver a menacing tone charged with ugly, dark energy to the syrup thick fuzz overdrive of ‘Hikikomori’ with its mind bending riffs evilly twisting around your mind, there is little left to doubt on the destructive power here, but equally the highly intelligent arrangements and incredible hooks, catches and perfection in the sound that really makes this album such a gem. Favourite track for me was the old school Crowbar meets Motorhead power driver of ‘Old Maid’, complete with a banshee of a bitch dualling on the ‘vocal’ shrieks  – yeah, you really will be a walking corpse after this one ha ha. 

Animal Drive – “Bite!”

Animal Drive – “Bite!” (Frontiers Music) 

Battle Helm Rating

‘…we’ve got armadillos in our trousers. It’s really quite frightening…’! Winner of the 2016 Fender award for the Best Male Vocal of the year in Croatia, Dino Jelusic is no stranger to success, having already won the first 2003 Junior Eurovision in Copenhagen! Since those early days, he’s formed Animal Drive, and along the way was chosen by the late, great Paul O’Neill to tour as a featured vocalist on Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s most recent U.S. tour, which is how he crossed paths with Jeff Scott Soto and came to the attention of Frontiers – who immediately offered him a deal! Playing balls deep hard rock along the lines of Skid Row complete with shredding, wailing guitars and hammering drums, Jelusic himself sounds like a more macho (if you can believe it) version of Dave Coverdale when he’s not crooning like Seb Bach and boy, does it all work a treat on this stunning debut! Pumped to the max with testosterone and always climaxing in a massively catchy chorus, the 11 tracks on “Bite!” do exactly that, completed by wailing Slash solos and heart grabbing keyboards thanks to the superb band that he’s built around him. From ‘Hands Of Time’ with its mixture of tempered power and unfettered melody the super catchy emotional chorus is like an incredible mix of Tyketto and Skid Row – oh, and just wait for the keyboard and guitar solos – to ‘Father’, a moving ballad exuding emotion that only gets deeper as it builds to such levels you could probably fill a stadium with tears! If you like it hard n heavy with crunching riffs and power drums, then ‘Fade Away’ does the trick, complete with lion man screams into the night and blood red solos that will have you howling into the night too….honestly, its that good! Easily the best band in Croatia and a definite top rank contender for Eastern Europe, Dino Jelusic and his Animal Drive have the prey of success in their sights and are stalking their way to that goal in classy style!

Avslut – “Deceptis”

Avslut – “Deceptis” (Osmose Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Formed from the ashes of several Swedish underground bands (Ascendancy, Unsanctus, Opacity etc) comes this black metal force who won Close Up’s ‘Best Unsigned Band’ in October 2016. Since then they’ve released an EP and a couple of singles but now comes this full blown affair – and it certainly doesn’t hold back! Given the sheer physical presence of the hulking brutes here, you don’t need a second to imagine the blast beating furor that is put out on the 9 tracks making up this debut. But signed to a pedigree label like Osmose, there’s a whole lot more on offer here…..Taking in the brazen epic tones of Emperor and the wondrous clanging black melodies of Dissection, Avslut’s song arrangements of dark ambient passages and heaps of Nordic atmosphere along the lines of Dimmu Borgir are what makes the difference. Employing a 3 guitar, dual vocal approach, the sound is deep and lush, which is exactly what you need for those evoking soundscapes and “Deceptis” is awash with it! From ‘Avslut’ with its slow, brooding atmosphere resplendent with clanging melodies and faster mid section of double bass drumming and even more dark melodies, the epic measure of the music – including some very tasty neo classical soloing – is what makes this band stand out. Even more so is ‘Martyrdom’ mixing its fast, double bass beats with the churning riffola from those 3 guitars, but again, graced by some splendid melodies that sit harmoniously alongside the harsh, rasping vocals – again, very slickly done and indeed showing the catchy without compromise talent of these guys. My favourite track was ‘Legion’ with its full on blast beat forays and throat ripping screams with yes, more clanging melodies from those 3 guitars also churning out even more gargantuan epic riffs in an enshrouding sound that takes you in but never lets go. A thorough pleasure to listen to, Avslut really show what high end black metal is all about on this highly impressive debut that I’d recommend to not just corpse paint wearers but metallers in general. 

Vojd – “The Outer Ocean”

Vojd – “The Outer Ocean” (High Roller Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Originally known as Black Trip, who were labelled as NWOBHM but to me, were more inspired by 70s hard rock especially along the lines of Thin Lizzy, Vojd goes the whole hog right back to 70s classic rock and comes across as an even more melodic version of Black Trip Lizzy ha ha! Still with Peter Stjärnvind (now on guitars) and Joseph Tholl on vocals (and now also bass), Vojd milks the twin guitars to the max with heaps of ultra catchy rock melodies oozing out’ve the 11 tracks on this power rock fantasy of an album. With Tholl still extolling soulfulness, the addition of plenty of power pop harmonies really brings the 70s groove in, but not in a trippy way – with the possible exception of the slow, blues harmonica piano ‘Dream Machine’ which is possibly inspired by Stjärnvind’s admiration of Roky Erickson, ZZ Top and Blue Öyster Cul. So despite its title, “The Outer Ocean” is, in fact, a very upbeat release thanks to the guitar driven rock on display here. Either way get ready for the opener ‘Breakout’ which does exactly that through its pumped groove culminating in an incredible chorus with harmonies all over the place while the twin guitars just spin you around – man, its like being crushed by an avalanche of flowers ha ha. With even more soaring melodies on ‘Delusions In The Sky’ and those unmistakable twin Lizzy guitars taking you higher and higher through their fret board bliss, ‘Secular Wire’ induces total hysteria with its heart stopping chorus. Although strangely named, Vojd certainly make their mark on this stupendous release complemented by a lovely warm sound to really bring out the richness in those 70s vibes. And if you still miss Black Trip then Stjärnvind and Tholl have given you one last ride on ‘Heavy Skies’! 

Old Mother Hell – “Old Mother Hell”

Old Mother Hell – “Old Mother Hell” (Cruz Del Sur Music) 

Battle Helm Rating

All men play on ten and Old Mother Hell definitely live up to their name as this self titled debut is f–king loud!!! With heaps of Maiden influenced melody as well as drawing inspiration from the current generation of true metal bands like Atlantean Kodex, this German power trio play mountains of epic metal with strong warrior melancholy along the lines of early Manowar. Formed from the ashes of thrash band Hatchery, the style couldn’t be more distant in being far slower and with a steadfastly DIY approach to recording and a definite intention to sound as they do live. As such, don’t be expecting any keyboards or effects but instead a real focus on the quality of the riffs and emotional reach of the 6 tracks here, matched by Bernd Wener’s impassioned but still manly vocals. Well, it certainly works a treat, with a massive sound bringing forth the epic strength of tracks like the bombastic but beautiful ‘Kneel To No God’, the galloping but glorious ‘Narcotic Overthrow’ with its warrior woahing chorus and the 8 minute glory of ‘Old Mother Hell’ with its powering but passionate guitars, delicately plucked strings and tons of soulful vocals backed by more melodies building over the course before the searing heaviness brings in the darkness like a bloody axe coming down. This is really what epic metal should be about! Already the winner of ‘Demo Of The Month’ and ‘Self-Produced Album Of The Month’ in Rock Hard and Deaf Forever magazines, this signing to Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music should give ’em the much deserved reach to a wider audience. 

Doomsday Outlaw – Over and Over

DOOMSDAY OUTLAW is a ten-legged hard rock, blues tinged juggernaut based in darkest Derbyshire.
Coupling huge riffs and killer grooves with soaring, soulful vocals to deliver timeless tales of heartbreak
and redemption, the group is set to show off its distinctive sound to the legions of hard rock faithful
around the globe via a new album, ‘Hard Times’, which is set for worldwide release via Frontiers in
May 2018.

Self-released in May 2016, the band’s debut album, ‘Suffer More’, received glowing notices from UK
magazines such as Powerplay (“I doubt you will hear a better album this year. 10 out of 10”) and
Fireworks (“Now THIS is a find!”), an ‘Album of the Week’ accolade from website Worship Metal
(“Doomsday Outlaw could release an album every 6 weeks and it’d be better than 99% of the bands
out there”) and many more rave reviews. Mounting critical acclaim plus a burgeoning reputation as a
killer live act brought the band to the attention of Frontiers Music srl, a company that is already home to
rising UK stars such as Inglorious, Wayward Sons and Bigfoot, in addition to hard rock legends like
Whitesnake and Uriah Heep. Realising their enormous potential, label president Serafino Perugino
wasted no time in signing the band.

With their new album and a ton of live gigs locked in, including a string of summer festival appearances,
2018 is destined to be the Year of the Outlaw!

Dates already in the diary are :

16.03.18  DERBY Hairy Dog
31.03.18  LEICESTER Firebug
05.04.18  WITNEY Fat Lil’s
26.04.18  LONDON Black Heart
28.04.18  BARNSLEY Old School House
02.05.18  EDINBURGH Bannermans *
03.05.18  NEWCASTLE Think Tank *
04.05.18  CHESTERFIELD Real Time Live *
05.05.18  WOLVERHAMPTON Slade Rooms *
06.05.18  CARDIFF Fuel *
09.05.18  OXFORD Bullingdon *
10.05.18  EVESHAM Iron Road *
11.05.18  BUCKLEY Tivoli *
12.05.18  SHEFFIELD Corporation
13.05.18  LONDON Underworld *
16.05.18  READING Face Bar *
17.05.18  NORWICH Waterfront *
18.05.18  CARLISLE Embers *
19.05.18  GLASGOW Audio *
20.05.18  BLACKPOOL Waterloo *
26.05.18  BROMSGROVE Stoke Prior Country Club **
01.06.18  SHEFFIELD Corporation ***


TAX THE HEAT – Episode Four

AX THE HEAT are gearing up for their new album Change Your Position to hit stores in just over 2 weeks, on 9th March 2018. Today the band have released the fourth ‘Medicine Sessions’ trailer, in which Jack and Alex discuss how recent political events such as Brexit influenced the writing of the new album’s title track. Watch here

CD & Black Vinyl (+ signed insert) from Recordstore.co.uk: http://nblast.de/TaxTheHeatRS
CD, Black and Light Blue Vinyl (+ signed insert) from the Nuclear Blast UK store: http://nblast.de/TaxTheHeatStore

Pre-order the album digitally from iTunes to receive ‘Change Your Position’, ‘Money In The Bank’ and ‘All That Medicine’ as instant grat tracks:  http://nblast.de/TaxTheHeatCYPIT

“If an album is about capturing a band or artist at a certain point, ‘Change Your Position’ might have happened at the perfect time. As a band we toured, found our sound, found our place and took inspiration from a world in utter chaos. With ‘Change Your Position’ we pushed ourselves creatively as hard as we could and it took us further into ourselves than we expected – we hope it’s apparent to the listener.” – Alex Veale

THY ANTICHRIST – The Great Beast

Just in time for the album release of “Wrath Of The Beast” this Friday, THY ANTICHRIST will be heavily hitting the road in the US!  To get in the right mood the band has delivered a smashing music video for the track “The Great Beast”! The band says: „In the name of The Great Beast, we invoke the ancient beast that dwells inside of you. The beast that has lived throughout all of human history. Generation after generation. From the forgotten past to this modern time.”

Thy Antichrist is an existentialist black metal band showcasing extreme elements that’s been making tidal waves in the underground metal community since 1998 and has been building an important fan base around the world. The band has handcrafted a sui generis style into their live performance and music respecting the old traditional metal influence of different metal genres such as thrash metal, heavy metal, death metal and of course the Black Metal touch. The band has taken to the masses with notable festival appearances with some of metals biggest names. In 2016, these US based Black Metallers found a home with the reputable Extreme Management Group, as well as joined the roster of well-known booking agency, Continental Concerts. With a stout history and commanding presence, Thy Antichrist has tremendous potential for further growth going with the recent worldwide signing with Napalm Records! The band has without a doubt connected with fans and created a loyal fan base eager to see what’s coming next.

THY ANTICHRIST on tourw/ Septicflesh, Dark Funeral
2/22: Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent
2/23: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
2/24: Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
2/25: Oakland, CA @ Metro Opera House
2/26: Portland, OR @ Rock Hard PDX
2/27: Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
3/1: Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
3/2: Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
3/3: Ringle, WI @ Q & Z Expo Center
3/4: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
3/5: Columbus, OH @ Alrosa Villa
3/6: Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry
3/7: Detroit, MI @Harpo’s
3/8: Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
3/9: Montreal QC @ L’Astral
3/10: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
3/11: Worcester, MA @ Palladium
3/12: Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
3/13: Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
3/14: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
3/16: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
3/17: Ft Worth, TX @ Rail Club
3/18: Austin, TX @ Come and Take it Live!
3/20: Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red