Danko Jones – “A Rock Supreme”

Danko Jones – “A Rock Supreme” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If you crave fast, funky high energy rock then get ready for the new Danko Jones album – which is indeed, “A Rock Supreme”!!! I dunno what happened in the last 2 years but I don’t remember this Canadian hard rock trio being so ramped up or happy for that matter, and it’s not like the world took a turn for the better. As such this 9th album comes as a welcome breath of pumping hard rock n roll fire in its 11 hugely catchy tracks, with heaps of hip shaking grooves and more than a hint of cheeky sass reminding me on more than one occasion of Phil Lynott in the vocals. Kicking the living shit out of audiences from Utah to Ulan Bator, touring with everyone from Guns N Roses to Volbeat, and playing international festivals from Rock Am Ring to Wacken to Hellfest, Danko Jones have created a name for themselves over the years, and the amazing material here on “A Rock Supreme” is almost a tribute to that life on the road, from the very live sound to the straight up, no bullshit hard rock songs here. Just get down n dirty on ‘Dance Dance Dance’ as Jones’s funky rhymes and vocal highs possess you immediately to – take a guess – yes, dance, and most of all, keep dancing while on the straight up one-two rocker of ‘Lipstick City’ the spirit of Lynott is abundant as Rich Knox and John Calabrese add the pumping power and hard back beat to give the song – indeed the whole album – a ballsy sound in perfect complement to the masses of funkiness. Stripped down and simplistic as it be may, the instant catchiness and memorability, not to mention sheer rock out power of the songs like on ‘Party’ don’t just inject the adrenaline, but keep you hooked as the singalong verses and melodies prove to be a natural high in themselves while ‘Burn In Hell’ is nothing short of a fast, barn burning cow rocker  complete with cowbell and country croons, but thanks to that driving beat of Calabrese and Knox, still a headbanger. Closing with the apt ‘You Can’t Keep Us Down’ the chorus title is nothing short of an anthem peaking the hard, defiant beat and street attitude vocals really giving it the finger to the naysayers. Although I wouldn’t have called myself a Danko Jones fan, this album really did it for me so I can only see “A Rock Supreme” taking ’em even higher! 

Månegarm – “Fornaldarsagor”

Månegarm – “Fornaldarsagor” (Napalm Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Well, if you’re gonna write an album about the great adventure sagas such as ‘Hervararsagan’, ‘Völsungasagan’ and ‘Saga om konung Ragnar Lodbrok ochhans söner’ (the Saga of King Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons), then you’d better call it “Fornaldarsagor”. Yessir, Månegarm have struck a golden booty worthy of their ancestors on this unbelievable 9th release! Epic isn’t the word to describe this album as it’s almost definitive of the viking metal genre, standing proud in its own right, sailing in some of the most stirring pagan melodies and resonating spirited passion in every oar stroke. Recorded by the 3 piece of Erik Grawsiö (vocals, bass), Markus Andé (guitar) and Jakob Hallegren (drums), “Fornaldarsagor” is a truly impressive achievement blending viking metal, pagan folk and even blackish elements together into the 8 mind blowing tracks here, accompanied in some cases by folk pipes, acoustics and fiddles. But beyond the musicianship is the composing, deep and hugely passionate as carried by the stirring viking pagan melodies both within complex as well as simpler song structures – but always reaching ever so emotionally into your heart and soul. So feel the axe bite on the lightning fast raid of ‘Tvenne drömmar’ through its double bass hammering and catchy scandi riffs made even more potent by a blinding melody from a mean fiddle that are complemented by deep warrior choirs brilliantly contrasted by Grawsiö’s own blackish drawls. Slowing the oar pace on ‘Ett sista farväl’, a tender female voice joins the choirs and that fiddle once more as pipes and Grawsiö’s soaring soul add both passion and atmosphere before Hallegren’s double bass drums come in at various speeds to inject some drama, ultimately culminating in the stirring folk pagan passion of all the instruments and voices. But if it’s glory you seek, then the 7 minute ‘Krakes sista strid’ will bask you in it, from Grawsiö’s alternating soul with hoarse vocals already bringing in pagan melodies that are added to even more movingly by beautiful folk pipes and that truly devastating fiddle, made all the more epic by huge wave crashing drums and deep warrior backing vocals that sing long into the night….It’s nothing short of gold on “Fornaldarsagor” my brothers and sisters.

Árstíðir Lífsins – “Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr”

Árstíðir Lífsins – “Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr” (Ván Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Oh wow, as beautiful and wild as the Icelandic landscape comes the stunning music, nay soundscapes of Árstíðir Lífsins, an Icelandic / German trio made up of members from underground bands such as Helrunar, Kerbenok and Skendöd. Conceived to approach old norse history, literature and art in a musically and lyrically sophisticated way, black metal was chosen as well as the use of pagan folk and ambient aspects to create deep and vast atmospheres of tranquillity and intensity – very much like the contrasting landscape of fire and ice! Employing the multi instrumentalist talents of Árni (Drums, Percussion, Viola, Cello, Organ, Vocals, Choirs), Stefán (Guitars, Bass, Piano, Vibraphone, Vocals, Choirs) and Marsél (Vocals, Choirs), “Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr” is sung entirely in old Icelandic and took 5 years to make, probably as a result of being a double album, the latter half of which will be released later this year. Centred around the history of Norwegian king Óláfr Haraldsson (aka Olaf II of Norway), “Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr” is over an hour long taken through a journey of 9 epic tracks of magnetic proportions evoking huge atmospheres as well as deep emotions that cannot be understated. It’s not just the obvious power but in many cases, the ingenious use of tranquillity and spoken word that has added so much to the overall intensity and heart stirring passion on this captivating 4th album. At just over 10 minutes ‘Líf á milli hveinandi bloðkerta’ is a slick blend of dark drawls, screams, cold metallic riffing and blast beating contrasted by deep, sombre choirs, Icelandic spoken verse and huge pagan melodies all superbly arranged to contrast yet flow effortlessly into a soothing ambient passage of droning throat singing and soft melodies before returning to the atmospheric intensity. Slightly longer is ‘Stǫng óð gylld fyr gǫngum ræfi’ with its initial cold chiming melodies and evil drawls soon exploding into a blast beating and screaming frenzy, then with a brief spoken word, intensely riffing into an epic piece abundant with rich scandinavian melodies before transitioning into a gloomy almost doom like episode of ominous whispers and down tuned melodies until the hammering war drums lead into the halls of valhalla with warrior choirs atmospherically providing the splendid backdrop to beautiful flowing guitars, screams and violins in an utterly moving culmination. Ending it all is the 15 minute ‘Haldi oss frá eldi, eilífr skapa deilir’, beginning slowly with deep sombre choirs and dull primal drums, but soon giving way to fast black ice riffing, evil drawls and chopping beats interspersed by spoken word and illuminating melodies before plodding off death doom mid song and then building epicly once more through droning chants, cellos and more spoken word in varying tempos to finally end with slow violins and cellos bringing the full melancholia to bear on the final poetic utterance. Simply unforgettable, even the band’s name meaning ‘the seasons of life’ in Icelandic is as mesmerising as their music.

Metall – “Metal Fire”

Metall – “Metal Fire” (Pure Steel Records)

Battle Helm Rating

As heavy as Stalin’s boot! Formed back in 1982, Metall became something of a name, recording tracks that ended up on top of radio broadcast hit lists like Beatkiste and Hard ’n’ Heavy DT 64 – no mean feat considering this was then (Communist) East Germany i.e. behind the iron curtain! But despite recording more songs for a split LP “Speed Up” on Label Z, the band split in 1991. However, in 2013 original co-founder bassist Sven Rappoldt (also well known as the owner of the legendary Halford Metal Bar in Berlin) reformed the band, resulting in their 2017 debut “Metal Heads”, and following that gigged including supporting Bullet as well as playing Taunus Metal Fest and Rude Open Air. Playing authentic heavy power metal from the 80s, Metall are as heavy as their name suggests, employing the twin guitars of Christian Beyer and Ben to deliver the power along with wailing siren solos, completed by an absolutely molten rhythm of pounding drums and deep bass. Offsetting that are the wonderfully soulful vocals of Joel Stieve Dawe (along with his screams n growls) and enough hooks and melodies to keep the music steaming as it is smouldering. This is how classic heavy metal used to sound and “Metal Fire” has it written all over the 9 excellent tracks here, including ‘Easy Rider’ from the band’s 80s demo now both presented in english and german versions! Like an anvil being smelted, prepare for the monster chugging riffs as they rock and sway on ‘Master Key’, getting dirty as Dawe just manages to sing and growl amid the squealing axes and megaton pounding drums before the swanky rock n roll solos knock you lights out – wow. Hammering in on ‘Hold The Line’ tank engines are truly roaring as this track just steams off with plenty of cymbal work from drummer Marco Thäle as Dawe hits the screaming highs while also impressing with his deathly growls as the guitars scythe and turn slickly to keep your interest before offering a contrast of blistering and melodic solo work – awesome. If ya like the chop, then ‘Beneath My Mind’ certainly does this, while also delivering some clanging metallic melodies as Dawe’s soul contrasts the background witch screams n whispers as the groove becomes almost thrash like as the solos go into an all out trip to possess and neck break – excellent. It’s great to have Metall back and really putting it in like this – make no mistake, this is real men’s metal from Deutschland!

Murg – “Strävan”

Murg – “Strävan” (Nordvis Produktion)

Battle Helm Rating

With no real names or rank and absolutely no interest in websites or social media (along with humanity for that matter), the near anonymous duo of Vargher (vocals, guitars, bass) and Ur’zul (guitars) have created quite a storm since 2015 through the issuance of their debut “Varg & Björn” that dealt with the annihilation of mankind (told you they didn’t like people) and “Gudatall” which portrayed the last survivors slowly perishing under nature’s rules (they really hate everybody). Emanating from an old mining district known as Bergslagen and surrounded by deep impenetrable forests, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this overwhelming presence of nature is cited as a strong influence on Murg’s icy, raw possessive black metal, which in many places is highly reminiscent of early Burzum and Darkthrone in its visceral atmosphere. However, listen closer and it soon becomes abundant that despite the misanthropy, there are also subtle melodies and hooks, as well as employing a post black shoe gaze element to counter the apocalyptic vision. “Strävan” is Murg’s third release and finalises the grim trilogy as humanity as we know it no longer exists, instead ‘.. a new form is created, a perfect beast born to sacrifice itself to end the entire universe…’! If you’re still reading this then full marks, as notwithstanding the concept, the music is something else! Opening with ‘Ur Myren’ the tinny guitar intro detonates into a mid tempo blackgaze wall sound resonating a deep and instantly catchy dark melancholic melody as Vargher’s slow drawn out screams only adds to the intensity completed by the fast blast beating double bass drum work – yes, that’s 3 different tempos in 1 song!! Going right into the dungeon murk on ‘Tre Stenar’, Vargher’s demonic drawls lead the haunting guitars powering out darkly epic riffs that once again resonate deep in your psyche as the dull, thudding drums only hammer home the catchiness and emotional reach of this straight to the bone, yet highly exciting affair. With its overpowering black gaze melancholy so prominent in ‘Berget’, even Vargher’s screeching and the double bass drums almost get squeezed in the tightly knit structure of this charged number that contains some unbelievable guitar work – not in the least the deep ending of acoustic guitars that gently dissipate the furore with everlasting emotion – utterly electrifying. Definitely one to see out the end of the world to.

Smoulder – “Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring”

Smoulder – “Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring” (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Battle Helm Rating
With no less than 3 re-pressings of their demo selling out fast, it’s to see why the epic heavy metal of these Canadians has been sought after for this impressive debut! Harking back to the days of 70s sword n sorcery right from the title that comes from Michael Moorcock’s novel “The Great Conqueror” to the fantasy cover by Michael Whelan (Cirith Ungol and numerous novels) to the matching medieval sounding material, melancholic and doomy in places but always movingly epic throughout, Smoulder have been on something of a quest themselves, right from when vocalist Sarah Ann and guitarist Shon Vincent kick started the band following an impromptu jam session in Calgary to re-locating to Toronto in search of musicians to finally recording in Chicago. However, live they’ve gone a lot farther, even playing the Hammer Of Doom Festival in Germany where they were also signed for this 6 track debut. With the songs averaging around the 5 minute + mark and influences like Tales Of Medusa, Manilla Road and Solstice as well as Iron Maiden and Angel Witch evident in the rich leaden sound courtesy of Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Sumerlands), Smoulder have all the boxes ticked on this captivating release. From the 6 minute + ‘Ilian Of Garathorm’, the thick dirty guitars Shon Vincent and Colin Blake don’t just bang your head through their heavy but catchy riffage but equally reach out to your heart through their mystical solos as Sarah Ann’s deeply soulful voice lures your mind through the song’s captivating chorus lines. On the re-recording of ‘The Sword Woman’ (originally on their demo), the slow but moving riffola melds perfectly with Ann’s powerful highs evoking strong emotions throughout and culminating in the melancholic solo ending that will not leave you unmoved. Likewise, the intricate, medieval guitar work on ‘Shadowy Sisterhood’ contrasted by Kevin Hester’s dramatic pagan drum work and Adam Blake’s prominently plucked bass lines along with Ann’s wicked trance song and wild screams really make for the drama on this highly memorable piece. At just over 9 minutes, ‘The Black God’s Kiss’ plods to heavy drums and deep prominent bass with plenty of reverb in the guitars that soon unleash a dark, possessive melody that leads onto an addictive groove only matched by Ann’s outstanding vocal peaks that are nothing short of spell bounding. Daring and bold with a talent to match, this youthful band don’t just do previous generations proud but with exceedingly good taste, have fashioned a sound of their own that could become legendary in its own right. 

My Dying Bride – A Harvest of Dread

A Harvest Of Dread  – a deluxe 92-page 12” hardback book on the rise of the UK doom metal legends. Containing 5 discs of rarities, early works, newly unearthed & never-previously-heard pre-production demos, band track favourites, & live audio.
My Dying Bride has been the leading light of doom metal since their debut album “As The Flower Withers” was released on Peaceville Records back in 1992, and the band’s heavy atmospherics and expertly crafted compositions make them among the most essential and legendary acts of the gothic doom/death genre. To celebrate their illustrious career to date, Peaceville Records will release A Harvest Of Dread on 24th May.

‘A Harvest of Dread’ is a limited edition deluxe hard book featuring a 92 page book chronicling the rise of the long-standing genre leaders from their beginnings in West Yorkshire, UK, through their ascension towards becoming one of the UK’s primary metal forces, along with a look into why & how their creative vision and attitude has been so unwavering over the years. The book features interviews with the band members plus others associated with the scene from the early 1990’s to present day; with a large number of brand new interviews conducted in 2018 with former members of the band, this new 2019 release gives a more comprehensive look into the history of these doom metal masters and those fans who have eagerly awaiting this release will not be disappointed.

“I am astounded at the body of work this outfit has created over quarter of a century but immensely proud too. From humble beginnings of demo tape, draughty rehearsal rooms and transit vans up to the heady heights of digi-packs, hotels and tour buses, we’ve done just about everything a rock n roll band is supposed to do. Members have come and gone, some lost forever and others staying in touch and all, thankfully, still friendly and welcoming. I look back at our extensive career, much of it laid out here for all to see in this impressive collection and feel strong and thrilled at what our output has achieved. There surely is something for everyone scripted here within A Harvest of Dread as it’s been hand-picked by the band and a select number of friends who know better. And if this isn’t enough, we are working on new material already so that, perhaps in another 25 years, we may be sat here again doing something very similar” comments Aaron Stainthorpe.

This special deluxe book/disc set contains five discs, and an expansive selection of rarities uncovered from the vaults and presented for the first time. Among these essential historical treasures are pre-production tracks from ‘The Angel & the Dark River’, ‘Like Gods of the Sun’, plus vastly different development versions of tracks which were eventually featured on (or intended for) the ‘34.788%…Complete’ album, showing a much darker, stripped down & metallic edge to the tracks generally.

Also featured on the set is a collection of the early works of the band, including the ‘Towards the Sinister’ demo, plus tracks from My Dying Bride’s rare early 7” releases & EPs, plus a previously unheard live concert from back in 1997.

Joining these rarities are a special selection of catalogue tracks chosen by core members Aaron Stainthorpe and Andrew Craighan, including their own words on why each tracks holds a particular poignancy to them, & the legacy of My Dying Bride.

‘A Harvest of Dread’ also notably features a foreword by the legendary Tom G Warrior of Triptykon/Celtic Frost/Hellhammer fame.

‘A Harvest Of Dread’ is available to pre-order now with option to purchase the book set with the limited edition etched “Hollow Cathedra” 7” single. “Hollow Cathedra” was recorded at the time of the band’s last opus, Feel the Misery and the 7” features the title track on one side, and etched lyrics on the reverse side.

FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE – Veleno: Writing and Recording

Italian orchestral-death metal juggernauts FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE have released a new trailer today, that discusses the writing and recording process for their forthcoming, highly-anticipated new album, ‘Veleno’. The band’s 5th record will be released on May 24th from Nuclear Blast Records. Watch the 4th trailer for ‘Veleno’

Pre-order ‘Veleno’ now: www.nuclearblast.com/fleshgodapocalypse-veleno
Pre-order the album digitally to receive ‘Carnivorous Lamb’ and ‘Sugar’ instantly (Amazon and iTunes only)!
Listen to both tracks in the NB New Releases Playlists: http://nblast.de/SpotifyNovelties / http://nblast.de/AppleMusicNovelties

Italian for ‘venom’, ‘Veleno’ marks FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE’s first record in 3 years, since the release of their critically acclaimed record ‘King’ (2016). The ‘metal part’ of ‘Veleno’ was recorded in Rome, Italy at Bloom Recording Studio and Kick Studio with long-standing collaborator Marco Mastrobuono, while the ‘orchestral part’ – the ensembles – were tracked at Musica Teclas Studio in Perugia. Fleshgod Apocalypse then took the effort over to Grammy-nominated Jacob Hansen (VOLBEAT, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, EPICA) at Hansen Studios in Denmark for mixing and mastering. The entire production of ‘Veleno’ took, according to Paoli, about three months. Artwork for the album was created by Travis Smith (AVENGED SEVENFOLD, OPETH, KATATONIA).

‘Veleno’ will be available in the following formats:
– DIGI (CD+BLU-RAY) + PATCH
– DIGI (CD+BLU-RAY)
– JEWELCASE CD
– 2LP (BLACK, GREY)
– DIGITAL DELUXE (INCL. INSTRUMENTAL VERSION OF THE REGULAR ALBUM)
– DIGITAL

FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE live: ‘Veleno’ – Latin American Tour 2019 w/ WOLFHEART
01.05. BR São Paulo – The House
02.05. BR Curitiba – Jokers
03.05. BR Porto Alegre – Art & Tattoo Club
04.05. ROU Montevideo – Music Box
05.05. RA Buenos Aires – Uniclub
06.05. RA Bahía Blanca – Nuevo Complejo Bailotage
07.05. RA Córdoba – Casa Babylon Club
09.05. RCH Santiago – Rock y Guitarras
10.05. PE Lima – CC Embassy
11.05. CO Bogotá – Ace of spades-club
12.05. GCA Guatemala City – TBA
14.05. ES San Salvador – TBA
16.05. MEX Mexico City – Foro Indie Rocks
17.05. MEX Querétaro – Noisy
18.05. MEX León – Maybach Concert Hall
19.05. MEX Guadalajara – Foro Independencia

01.06. I Trezzo sull’Adda (MI) – Metalitalia.com Festival
23.06. B Dessel – Graspop Metal Meeting
20.07. SK Revištske Podzamcie – Gothoom
26.07. P Vila Nova de Famalicão – Festival Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão

PINKISH BLACK – Until

Texas experimental duo PINKISH BLACK will release their 4th full-length Concept Unification on June 14th. Listen to the first single, the slow-burner HERE and all streaming services.

Concept Unification is due out June 14th on CD/LP/Digital. Physical packages are available for pre-order via Relapse.com. Digital Downloads / Streaming Services are available.

PINKISH BLACK Tour Dates:

May 18 Taos, NM @ Monolith on the Mesa

PINKISH BLACK’s new album, “Concept Unification” is the band’s most adventurous record to date. Each of the 6 tracks on the album explore the innermost depths of forward-thinking doom rock, as psychedelic undertones collide with dark, crushing heaviness. Brooding synthesizers on “Concept Unification’s” opening title track give way to the impending melancholy found on “Dial Tone”, while progressive ebbs and flows on “Petit Mal” showcase PINKISH BLACK’s ability to manipulate dark ambience. The album closer “Next Solution” presents a somber, contemplative piano performance front-and-center, before exploding into a dramatic whirl of choirs and rhythmic pummeling. “Concept Unification” is a beast of it’s own, pontificating on themes of anxiety, futility, and emptiness, positioning PINKISH BLACK as vital to the independent scene as ever.

Myrath – “Born To Survive” (Live)

Today, MYRATH are releasing their third single “Born To Survive”from their new album “Shehili”. “Born To Survive” is a song that is especially dear to the band’s heart and one that stands out in defining the sound of “Shehili” and therefore the elegant fusion of powerful melodies with exceptional lyrics. “Born To Survive”, a song that captivates through its heavy rhythm and Andalusian influences, is prove that MYRATH’s interesting take on foreign sounds never compromises the band’s true heavy metal fashion. This combination, referred to as “Blazing Desert Metal” is what makes MYRATH worth a listen – that and their undoubtable talent for creating mysticism and wonder.

The release of the powerful “Born To Survive” is accompanied by the release of a performance video of the same song. The video was taken from the striking live performance in the legendary Carthage amphitheatre, a magical venue in
MYRATHs home of Tunisia, where the band played in front of 7000 enthusiastic fans, making it one of the most impactful moments in MYRATH’s career so far.

The first live performances in 2019 will take place at the legendary SWEDEN ROCK festival and the WACKEN OPEN AIR. These performances promise to become fantastic events that will give fans the opportunity to enjoy the songs from “Shehili” for the very first time live.

“Shehili”will be released as a CD Digipak, 1LP+Downloadand Digitalon May 3rd, 2019 on earMUSIC.

Pre-order the albumhere:https://myrath.lnk.to/Shehili