Death Angel – “The Evil Divide”

death

Death Angel – “The Evil Divide” (Nuclear Blast Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Probably one of the most underrated metal bands ever, Death Angel were at the forefront of the Bay Area’s second wave of thrash. When they released their debut “The Ultra-Violence” back in 1987 it was ground breaking not just for its ferocity, but also the maturity inherent in the song writing as well as technical execution – and all this from a Filipino – American band under 20 years of age! Rising fast on both sides of the Atlantic, it was clear that the band’s desire to stretch their legs beyond thrash only served to gain them more support in releasing “Frolic Through The Park” while stepping up to worldwide recognition on “Act III”. As fate would have it, however, drummer Andy Galeon was hospitalized in 1990, during which time vocalist Mark Osegueda decided the leave the band for university, effectively ending the band until 1998, when founding guitarist Rob Cavestany, Galeon and himself would once again be reunited, although it would be another 6 years before an album would be re-issued. During the millennium years the band regained lost ground, issuing steady releases and despite Galeon leaving the band in 2009, the core of Cavestany and Osegueda, along with long time guitarist Ted Aguilar have built a new rhythm in drummer Will Carroll and Damien Sisson on bass. “The Evil Divide” is the band’s 8th release and is the 3rd consecutive release not to see any line up change to the band, or in producer Jason Suecof, indicating solidification in the Death Angel camp. According to the band, there was a desire to 3rd time out to go for another “Act III” in bringing back diversity and increased melody. Well thankfully they didn’t! “The Evil Divide” is not just brutal and intense, but the band themselves have come to realize that melodies and catchy hooks can be comfortably incorporated alongside, especially by a band like this who throughout their history have never been afraid to push the envelope further out. Blasting forth with ‘The Moth’, its clear everyone is firing from all barrels – centered around a catchy monster riff, the licks start to hit from Cavestany and Aguilar as Osegueda’s throat strained drawls spit out lyrics with doom laden harmonies in the background – and then Carroll and Sisson come in – and it really starts to take off! Thanks to Suecof’s organic production, the sonic devastation is made even more clearer (and louder) and as the follow up ‘Cause For Alarm’ comes crashing in amidst a flurry of whirring melodic riffs, the neo classical solos hit home like missiles before the monster catchy chorus finishes you off – and you know that Death Angel are truly back! The 10 tracks here show that the band have truly found their comfort in this mix of brutality and unashamed catchiness, something I suspect reflects the new found harmony between Cavestany and Osegueda themselves, and as the addictive tornado riffing of ‘Hatred United, United Hate’ once again takes possession of your senses, you know that Mark never wasted his education in his intelligent lyrics. Prodigies in the making on “The Ultra-Violence”, “The Evil Divide” almost 3 decades on impressively shows a band come of age and that immense talent.

Gruesome – “Dimensions Of Horror”

grue

Gruesome – “Dimensions Of Horror” EP (Relapse Records)

Battle Helm Rating

If you’re a fan of old school Death – as in Chuck Schuldiner’s band – especially during its classic era of “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Leprosy”, then look no further than Gruesome! Exploding onto the scene last year in “Savage Land”, whose homage to Death even attracted original Death artist Ed Repka, Gruesome have saluted Chuck Schuldiner’s spirit and sentiment by respectably bringing it into modernity. Formed by ex DTA members Matt Harvey (Exhumed, Dekapitator) on guitar / vocals and drummer Gus Rios (ex-Malevolent Creation), it didn’t take long before Derekta‘s bassist Robin Mazen joined them along with guitarist Daniel Gonzalez (Possessed). Between these veterans a hugely respectable job has been done in taking an essentially simplistic but addictive style and enriching it to the max in both savagery and sophistication. The sound of the instruments has been intentionally tuned to match Schuldiner – along with original members Rick Rozz, Terry Butler and Bill Andrews so its virtually like you’re listening to that very band across the 6 tracks, graced once again by Ed Repka’s art. Right from the evil diddly dee riffing to the wild neo classical solos and twacking snare drum speed runs, its all authentically captured on songs like ‘Hellbound’, ‘Forces Of Death’ and ‘Seven Doors’, making “Dimensions Of Horror” one of the top EP releases this year.

Suns of Thyme – “Cascades”

suns

Suns of Thyme – “Cascades” (Napalm Records)

Battle Helm Rating

There are certain cities in the world that magnetically draw talented musicians together – LA, New York and in Europe, Berlin. With its very alternative and bohemian past, this city’s rich music scene did the same to five talented guys from all the corners of Germany – and the Suns of Thyme were born – playing a self styled ‘Krautgaze‘, which I’d readily acknowledge listening to the diverse mix of psychedelic rock, shoegaze and heaps of indie rock. Still, don’t be expecting any DIY or garage style approach to the rich material here, but instead conscientious composition and rehearsals, not to mention a breathtaking array of sounds employed through effects pedals, synth sounds and programs. Even more surprising is that while the obvious influences of Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground are there, equally so are Joy Division and The Doors, making for a less heavy vibe, but instead a flowing ethereal sound inducing a most wondrous and joyful sensation. The 14 tracks, while maintaining this constant vibe, are all pretty different to one degree or another, so there’s plenty of variety thanks to the high quality musicianship and captivating material. This album definitely warrants an uninterrupted listen from start to finish be it through the strummed radiance culminating in shamanic bliss of ‘In Dreams Awake’ to the psych meets The Smiths melancholia of ‘Intuition Unbound‘ or the sitar tabla induced eastern beauty of ‘The Field’. Mesmerizingly brilliant, “Cascades” was such a pleasurable listen I could not tear myself away!

Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy – “Songs From The Garage”

jim

Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy – “Songs From The Garage” (Metal Blade Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Goat Boy. Anyone who remembers the cast of NBC’s legendary “Saturday Night Live” in the mid 90s will remember Jim Breuer’s dead on impressions of actor Joe Pesci. Beyond that he co-starred in the film “Half Baked” and beyond his radio and TV career, today remains one of the top touring stand up comedians in the US. What mainstream folks don’t realize is that Breuer has always been a massive rock and metal fan, so much so that he formed the Jim Breuer Band, who some might remember playing festivals such as Rock On The Range, Metallica’s Orion Music Festival and the mutha of all metal gatherings – Wacken Open Air! Now hooking up with former Anthrax guitarist and current guitarist/producer of Volbeat, Rob Caggiano, Breuer has put together his previous metal experiences into “Songs From The Garage”, which is sure to play to any family man who’s still a full blooded rocker at heart. While Spinal Tap was a spoof, and the Beastie Boys created the ultimate party album in “Licensed To Ill”, Breuer has played to his strengths of family friendly stand up and impressions, while utilizing the talent around him to create this empathetic rock / metal album that even hooked in AC/DC’s Brian Johnson to sing on the hard rock boogie of ‘Mr Rock n Roll’ – not to mention his Geordie spoken word on the bluesey ‘My Rock n Roll Dream’! And that’s just it – anyone, anyone can relate to the subject matter and understand where Breuer’s coming from on songs like ‘Be A Dick 2Nite’ where Metallica’s ‘Jump In The Fire’ lick blends into a 70s Kiss style rocker complete with hilarious soul harmonies as the chorus wails ‘….don’t be a dick tonite, whooaah..’ – priceless! Best of all, the 11 tracks all employ different styles of rock and metal so the initial Skid Row hard crunch to ‘Family Warrior’ soon morphs into a stylish AOR groove as Breuer cathartically laughs the anguish of family bereavement in the face by saying ‘hey, I’m a man, and I can take it’. For the heavies, ‘Thrash’ speaks for itself with its Anthrax style stomping beat while on ‘Sugar Rush’ its School Of Rock meets the Scorpions razor riffing ‘Dynamite’ and on ‘Wannabe’, Breuer gets to vent big time at manufactured pop. Well, now you too can join him in the family man’s last refuge as he rocks out to middle age on “Songs From The Garage”!

Mortillery – “Shapeshifter”

mort

Mortillery – “Shapeshifter” (Napalm Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Screaming out’ve the Canadian tundra comes Mortillery, an OTT unstoppable force bringing together Iron Maiden played at incredible speed – and with two women in the band, unsurprisingly Detente and Holy Moses! With two full length releases already under their (bullet) belts, not to mention a recent Euro tour with Sepultura, Legion Of The Damned and Flotsam & Jetsam, it’s easy to see why Mortillery (an amalgamation of ‘mortal’ and ‘artillery’) are fast racing up the league of thrashers for their neck breaking freneticity. Propelled by the twin axe attack of Alex Gutierrez and Kent Quinlan, who skillfully match their Formula 1 speed with plenty of warbling melodies, abundant breaks and solos, comes the steroided, screaming vocals of Cara McCutchen who is like a volatile mix of Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, Paul Baloff and Sabine Classen!! Completed by the heavily plucked bass of Miranda Wolfe and Kevin Gaudet’s hammering drums, Mortillery’s sound is a tasteful mix of thrash and catchy heavy metal with just the right hint of hardcore punk to make any listener see what all the fuss is about on tracks like ‘Torture’ and ‘Black Friday’. That said, the slower (well, that’s slower compared to the rest of the album!) title track ‘Shapeshifter’ also shows the band capable of delivering commendable epics, skillfully handled by McCutchen’s powerful but this time clean singing and Gutierrez and Quinlan providing lashings of passionate guitar work, so I really hope they do more this in the future. There’s clearly plenty of energy on this 3rd album that also goes a long way to reveal some real class and hidden talents behind this fast ascending band!

Tyfon’s Doom – “Yeth Hound”

Tyfons

Tyfon’s Doom – “Yeth Hound” EP (Gates Of Hell Records)

Battle Helm Rating

If you’re a fan of true metal or traditional heavy metal then Tyfon’s Doom will be to your calling! A one man project formed by Finland’s Tommy Varsala, who clearly personifies the spirit of true heavy metal, his vision has been captured here by the terrific music of Tyfon’s Doom. Right off I will say there is a very DIY feel to the album, but rather than sounding unprofessional, it gives a dated sound to the music which ironically reflects the time when this style was all too common! While there is a undoubted early Maiden influence, in the main Varsala has made some original compositions which he’s executed respectably through his respectable guitar work that really brings out the passion of songs like ‘Rapid Revival’, ‘Gate to New Reality’ and my personal fave, the hugely catchy ‘Still Here’. Blending power melodies with hard rocking riffs into memorable mini epics is undoubtedly Varsala’s strength, and while his distant-in-the-mix singing may be unpolished, it once again ironically sits well on the 9 tracks here, which also includes his “2015 Demo”, making this 300 copy limited edition EP another sought after addition to the non gigging one man mystique of the very underground Tyfon’s Doom.

DORO – ‘Bad Blood’ Feat. LORDI!

The undisputed Queen of metal, DORO, is set to release forthcoming Blu-ray/DVD+CD package entitled Strong and Proud – 30 Years Of Rock And Metal on June 24th via Nuclear Blast. To give fans another taster of what to expect in this forthcoming release, the live clip for ‘Bad Blood’ (feat Lordi – Rock Night) has been revealed today. Continue reading

DECAPITATED – Blood Mantra

Polish death metal masters DECAPITATED have released an official live video for Blood Mantra, the title track from the band’s 2014 release. The footage was taken from DECAPITATED’s March UK tour with labelmates SYLOSIS, and neatly wraps up the current album cycle.

REVOCATION – new album

Having delivered five killer albums boasting some of the most potent, technical and abrasive metal unleashed over the last decade, it would be easy for REVOCATION to sit back and rest upon their laurels. However, with their constant drive to push their sound ever forward and refusal to compromise their integrity, this could never be the case – and ‘Great Is Our Sin’ is their most dynamic, boundary-pushing and weighty release to date. Continue reading