Pig Destroyer – “Pornographers of Sound: Live in NYC”

Pig Destroyer – “Pornographers of Sound: Live in NYC” (Relapse)
Battle Helm Rating
For a band famed for their live performances, I haveta say that this came as a surprise in being Pig Destroyer’s first live release. This US grindcore band, who are as much influenced by Slayer and The Melvins as they are by Brutal Truth, have issued 5 prior studio albums and countless EPs, split releases and compilations since they were formed in 1997. They say you can’t make up for lost time, but “Pornographers of Sound: Live in NYC” certainly goes a long way in doing so, featuring 23 tracks spanning their entire discography as recorded across two dates at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar back in October 2019. Led by the uglier than thou bark blast roars of J.R. Hayes and Scott Hull’s cheese grater guitars, the rest of band follow suite in levelling the equally boisterous crowd with their sonic decimation, although it’s by no means a ceaseless noise trip as some truly impressive power grooves mix with catchy thrash hooks and nihilistic punk licks across alternating tempos in a tight performance topped off by some slick electronica to show why this band are such an international name. As the punk chundering begins on ‘Loathsome’, Adam Jarvis’ double bass drumming and snare beats add to the ominous tone from Hull’s dirty guitar and new bassist Travis Stone’s heavy ass bass, grinding and grooving to get those fists air punching with tons of headbanging moments that both delight live while offering equal audio pleasure. With an absolutely skanking punk groove, ‘The Machete Twins’ drives and slams through Hull’s raw riffing in unison with Jarvis’ double bass speed, and as the number rips ‘n’ roars, the nihilistic twists add to the insanity of Hayes’ punk as f–k vocals and throat raw screamo – brilliant! Thanking the crowd for its resilience, the grindcore kickbeat on ‘Starbelly’ is nothing short of immense as the entire band lay into the audience before allowing the terror of their assault soak in as Hull’s warbling guitar sludges its way across the floor like death itself before picking up the speed to groove it up again, although this personal favourite of mine never ceases to crush throughout. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to feel like yourself after such an intense performance from the possessive power of the mighty Pig Destroyer!

Artillery – “X”

Artillery – “X” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
“.. if anyone had told me forty years ago that I would have made ten albums and played in over sixty different countries I wouldn’t have believed it…” so speaketh the always humble Michael Stützer, guitarist of Artillery. Formed in 1982 after visiting Mercyful Fate in their rehearsal room and inspired by Tank’s song ‘Heavy Artillery’, these Danish thrashers have been around the blocks – and then some – despite a couple of lengthy hiatuses and the passing of fellow guitarist and brother of Michael, Morten Stützer. Devoid of any image, let alone a desire for commercial gain, the band have soldiered on for the love of thrash, steadily building their respect through their music much to the regard of many a fan around the world. Y’see, Artillery are one of us, and being that, they know exactly what every headbanger wants: monster chundering riffs with ultra-catchy hooks that could land a whale while unafraid to show their speed and aggression through technicality topped off with a melodic touch. Very tasty indeed! Leaving little to the imagination on this tenth titled release, the 11 songs follow on unpretentiously from their previous releases, although the sound is immense, and in many cases reminiscent of 1990’s “By Inheritance”, which is probably my favourite Artillery album, so I’m definitely happy with this record ha ha! Unleashing all on ‘In Thrash We Trust’, heavy power riffs immediately jump into your face, chopping away amid the spiralling exotic fretboard brilliance of Michael Stützer and new guitarist Kræn Meier (Hell’s Domain, Nominon, Sacrificial, The Petulant, ex-Strangler, ex-Evil, ex-Pitch Black, ex-Thorium, ex-Atomkraft (live), ex-Iniquity, ex-Mugshot, ex-Metallica Jam, ex-Thrash of the Titans) on a tight as f–k performance as long-time bassist Peter Thorslund and drummer Josua Madsen hammer out in nothing short of a full scale barrage while being matched, albeit in soulful contrast, by the soaring highs of Michael Bastholm Dahl – classic Artillery! Indeed, it is precisely this winning combination inspired by 70s hard rock and propelled by the NWOBHM of the early 80s that’s appealed not just to Artillery’s lifelong fans, but equally to the regard of bands like Metallica, that’s made these Danes such a force to be reckoned with. On ‘Varg I Veum’, it’s more of the same as eastern melodies bring a soothing touch to the fiery riffs crashing around them and Madsen’s equally pounding drum work, while Bastholm Dahl’s rhyming lines add the slick finish before the solos come screaming in for the coup de grâce. Riff galloping in on ‘Mors Ontologica’, the groove is immense thanks to the superb sound courtesy of long-time producer Søren Andersen, who’s worked with the band on every record since 2009’s “When Death Comes”, and as the guitars dance it out in fine style through a blinding medley of fast licks, screaming solos and dazzling melodies, Bastholm Dahl exudes a passion in his soulful highs that will be certainly hard to forget. Forget the bacon, when it comes to Denmark, Artillery slice it like no other!

Ereb Altor – “Eldens Boning”

Ereb Altor – “Eldens Boning” MCD (Hammerheart Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed in 2003 by Isole members Crister ‘Mats’ Olsson and Daniel ‘Ragnar’ Bryntse, Ereb Altor are truly definitive of pagan metal, incorporating into their obviously Nordic inspired sound, epic, folk, black and doom metal elements over the course of 8 full length releases to become worthy successors to Primordial, Enslaved and not in the least, Bathory. On this 4-track mini album, they prove that even more through the diverse mix of songs, while presenting a common theme of intense passion throughout and delivered superbly by deeply committed performances! Opening with reverent warrior choirs and trance wailing on ‘The Twilight Ship’, the heavy riff and drum bombast begins the Viking groove to which overpowering lead melodies and beautiful soulful singing add their spirited touch into a huge Nordic atmosphere that leaves no doubt as to the purity of its paganism. In superb contrast is the ethereal ‘Fenrisulven’ with its gentle acoustics, somber violins and soft vocals eliciting another massive Nordic atmosphere – this time of calm – through its emotional depth in showing another dimension to this band’s talent. If its fire that you want, then the title track ‘Eldens Boning’ is nothing short of a berserker charge of stampeding double bass drumming, evil riffing mixed with spiralling melodies and a truly breath-taking vocal mix of black spat vocals, pagan shout outs, soulful singing and Valkyrie choirs that chunders and gallops with red blooded passion that will not leave your spirit untouched. Rocking like a longship in the waves, ‘Sacrifice’ is propelled by thick guitars sounding more Nordic passion as the vocal contrast of shimmering soulful highs against goblin drawls graced by a Valhalla choral touch adds even more drama to the already stormy atmosphere, bringing this magnificent release to a close in proving that Ereb Altor achieve more in 4 brilliant songs than what other bands fail to do in an entire album!

Marius Danielsen – “Legend Of Valley Doom Part 3”

Marius Danielsen – “Legend Of Valley Doom Part 3” (Crime Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Inspired for life when he saw Iron Maiden for the first time aged 15, Marius Danielsen’s heart was also swept away by films like “Braveheart”, “Lord Of The Rings” and “Star Wars”, so much so in fact, that he began his own quest in a rock opera now known as the Legend Of Valley Doom! Joined by his brother Peter, they continued to develop the project together, until realising their dream when the first album was released in 2015. With Marius handling guitars / vocals and Peter on vocals/ keyboards / orchestrations, what impressed even more was sheer range of guest names who also believed in the concept such as Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken), Edu Falaschi (ex-Angra, Almah), Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, Avalon), Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Ross the Boss (ex-Manowar, DeathDealer), Robb Weir (Tygers of Pan Tang), Mike LePond (Symphony X) and Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire)! Gathering momentum in 2018 for Part 2, the brothers were joined by no less than Michael Kiske (Helloween, Avantasia, Unisonic), Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden, Wolvesbane), Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS), Tom Naumann (Primal Fear), Tracy G (ex-Dio), Jens Ludwig (Edguy) and Vinny Appice (ex-Dio, ex-Black Sabbath), which read like the film cast of one of Marius’s epic movies, really prompting the question of how he was drawing such luminaries to his work, although by then his stupendous compositions were more than answering all the questions! Now comes the epic conclusion to the trilogy and the names are just rolling in from the narrations of famed actor John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) to vocalists like Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear, Gamma Ray), Tim Ripper Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth) and Herbie Langhans (Avantasia, Seventh Avenue, Firewind), along with guitarists Ronni Le Tekrø (TNT), Richard Fortus (Guns N Roses, The Dead Daisies), Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson), Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica, ReinXeed) and Dushan Petrossi (Iron Mask, Magic Kingdom). Together with many other contributions, nothing should, however, take away from the brothers’ own musicianship, as well as their song writing talents. Additionally, I’m glad to say that the epic power metal of their music is what is central rather than being secondary to the story and while the guest list is truly jaw dropping, the talent of the stars isn’t designed to carry the project but rather to give each song that extra special touch. Indeed, as the gloriously uplifting tones and positive vibes on ‘Journey To The North’ majestically sound, the soaring passionate vocals add to the bountiful keyboard melodies in building the rich sound that leads to the energised singalong chorus graced by multiple vocal harmonies in what is essentially a giant collaboration rather than a competitive contrast. Speeding up on ‘Tomb Of The Fallen Kings’, the guitar and keyboard melodies are nothing short of heavenly as they add to the beauty of the song, graced by more varied vocal combinations, although all equally abundant in their spirit and passion by adding tons of emotion as the guitars feed in their own dexterous wailing and neo classical brilliance to create yet another winning epic of titanic proportions. Closing this magnificent chapter as majestically as it began, ‘For Our King And For Our Lord’ graciously sounds its deep melodies through red blooded vocals and full-bodied choirs backed by matching guitars crooning, wailing and screaming in more neo classical splendour to the spectacular bombast of an album that will leave you both exhausted in every sense – although with a big, happy smile. So join the Danielsen brothers – and half the metal world – on this amazing quest, for it goes well beyond the teenage dreams of a young lad….

Five Finger Death Punch – Darkness Settles In

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 30, 2021 – Today, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, one of the most iconic and successful acts in modern music, dropped the official music video for their new single “Darkness Settles In.” WATCH NOW or DOWNLOAD. The track, a fan favorite taken from their latest #1-charting and critically-praised studio album F8, was produced by the band, alongside music super-producer Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed, Slash, etc.). Sonically, it takes listeners on a journey, starting from a place of stripped-down rawness and eventually reaching explosive, anthemic heights, truly embodying the full emotional spectrum of the band’s sound that has made them one of the top 2 listened to rock bands in the world, based on sales and streaming data. The single follows in the footsteps of the album’s three previously released smashes, “Inside Out,” “A Little Bit Off,” and “Living The Dream,” all of which reached number one on U.S. rock radio.

The new video highlights the band’s high-energy spirit that has captured millions of fans worldwide. It combines epic performance shots, showcasing the group’s eagerness to get back out on the road, and an exclusive first look at footage from the upcoming horror-thriller film THE RETALIATORS. The track will be included on the film’s original soundtrack, of which the band take center stage in an all-star tracklisting from some of the biggest names in rock. Additionally, the band will be seen starring in special cameos in the movie, due later this year. The band was also recently announced as one of the top 5 finalists for Top Rock Artist at this year’s Billboard Music Awards. The BBMAs will broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. They were also announced as a nominee for Rock Artist of the Year at this year’s iHeart Radio Music Awards, which air on FOX on Thursday, May 27 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

ALESTORM – Drink (Live)

All aboard! The world’s favorite Pirate Metal Drinking Crew, ALESTORM, are taking you on a wild, wet ride across the seven seas with their new live album/DVD/BluRay, Live in Tilburg, out May 28, 2021 via Napalm Records! Today, the wild bunch releases another song off the Live-DVD from their tremendous show in Tilburg, Netherlands! ALESTORM makes the instructions for Tilburg’s live crowd very clear: „Drink“! This fist-pumping fan-favorite is a heavy metal powerhouse and the bands most successful single of all time. 36 million views on YouTube and 30 million clicks on Spotify make this song standout – and the new version comes with a very authentic live production!

Excellently produced and mixed by the renowned Lasse Lammert, who has already been involved in ALESTORM’s studio albums Curse Of The Crystal Coconut, No Grave But The Sea, Sunset On The Golden Age and many more, Live in Tilburg features an amazing mix of ALESTORM’s most beloved hits like “Drink“, “Mexico”, “Alestorm”, “Hangover”, “The Sunk’n Norwegian” and of course, “Fucked With An Anchor”. The live album will be available on splatter-colored double-LP with a slipmat and a patch, as well as on mint colored and golden colored vinyl. The special edition of Live in Tilburg comes in a wooden box, along with a CD+DVD, a mediabook and a 7-inch vinyl featuring two new acoustic ALESTORM cover songs! Live in Tilburg’s immersive experience is the true definition of what ALESTORM is all about – an endless fountain of foot-stomping, riff-busting, piratical singalong fun. A must-have for all the filthy landlubbers out there!

BELPHEGOR – Euro co-headline tour with BATUSHKA

Black Rituals will descend over Europe. BELPHEGOR proudly announces co-headline tour dates with Polish black metal priests BATUSHKA for winter 2021. These malignant forces will combine for evenings filled with the most sinister and diabolical rituals. Tickets are on sale now!

10.11.2021 – Stockholm [SWE], Slaktkyrkan
11.11.2021 – Gothenburg [SWE], Musikens Hus
12.11.2021 – Oslo [NOR], Parkteatret
13.11.2021 – Malmo [SWE], Plan B
14.11.2021 – Aarhus [DEN], Voxhall
16.11.2021 – London [UK], 229
17.11.2021 – Bedford [UK], Esquires
18.11.2021 – Manchester [UK], Bread Shed
19.11.2021 – Birmingham [UK], Castle and Falcon
20.11.2021 – Louvain-la-Neuve [BEL], Mass Deathruction Fest
21.11.2021 – Zaandam [NLD], De Flux
23.11.2021 – Übach – Palenberg [GER], Rockfabrik
24.11.2021 – Hamburg [GER], Headcrash
25.11.2021 – Dresden [GER], Puschkin
26.11.2021 – Prague [CZE], Futurum
27.11.2021 – Kosice [SVK], Collosseum
28.11.2021 – Ostrava [CZE], Barrack Club
30.11.2021 – Budapest [HUN], Barba Negra
01.12.2021 – Munich [GER], Backstage
03.12.2021 – Graz [AUT], Explosiv
04.12.2021 – Milan [ITA], Black Winter Fest
05.12.2021 – Monthey [SUI], City

More dates will be announced soon.

BELPHEGOR’s as-of-yet untitled new studio album will be released early next year via Nuclear Blast Records. The band will premiere II or III tracks from the upcoming offering during this crusade. Support extreme musick and spread the word!

In September 2017, BELPHEGOR released their latest studio album Totenritual, the eleventh work of the infernal black metal band.


SUBWAY TO SALLY – IX (Live) ft. Saltatio Mortis

When two greats of the German folk rock and medieval scene get together, there’s nothing but magic taking place – not even a prevailing pandemic can change that! Today, SUBWAY TO SALLY drop their captivating performance of the Saltatio Mortis hit “IX”, cut from the band’s upcoming, unique Blu-Ray/DVD/CD highlight, Eisheilige Nacht – Back to Lindenpark, out June 18, 2021 via Napalm Records.

The original song can be found on the Saltatio Mortis full-length Das Schwarze Einmaleins (2013) and is now captured for eternity, presented by both bands as an exclusive version on Eisheilige Nacht – Back to Lindenpark.

SUBWAY TO SALLY add: “We covered ‘IX’ and put it into our very own SUBWAY TO SALLY version. Our long-time companions from Saltatio Mortis wanted us to cover the song for a bonus CD that’s part of their album Zirkus Zeitgeist (2015). Within a short time, the track became very popular amongst our fans and even pushed a few of our classics out of our streaming top 5 temporarily. After a joint tour playing the track together with Saltatio Mortis, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to keep it in our regular live set for some time. Or in other words: a Saltatio Mortis cover version became part of the SUBWAY TO SALLY set! I don’t think there can be a better alliance within our scene and so we were really looking forward to performing the song again with our friends at Eisheilige Nacht – Back to Lindenpark.“

HAMMER KING – Atlantis

After releasing “Hammerschlag” as a first glimpse of what power metal up-and-comers HAMMER KING have to offer on their new album Hammer King (out June 11 via Napalm Records), today they reveal their anthem “Atlantis (Epilogue)” to the world! On “Atlantis (Epilogue)”, power metallers HAMMER KING reveal their melodic side as singer and guitarist Titan Fox V shows off his incredible vocal range. Dynamic songwriting meets multi-faceted, virtuoso guitar solos!

Singer/guitarist Titan Fox V about the new single “Atlantis (Epilogue)”: “With great pride we are to announce the release of the second video single off our upcoming album Hammer King: ‘Atlantis (Epilogue)’. Atlantis has been on everyone’s list. It’s an epic song actually written on the Lake Zürich. Its lyrics go back to some of the earliest hours in human history or mythology. It also serves as an epilogue to our nautical trilogy off the Poseidon Will Carry Us Home album. Some of our finest lead guitars meet big vocals and counterpoint singing. Carry us back home!”

Velvet Two Stripes – Fever

Swiss trio Velvet Two Stripes has announced the release of their third album, titled Sugar Honey Iced Tea, on October 15, 2021. Packed with nine fuzzing and buzzing, kicking and howling beasts of songs, Velvet Two Stripes’ raw sound is based on blues, garage rock and riot grrrl punk, crafted in true D.I.Y.-spirit.

It’s the sound of road-warriors, as most of the new Velvet Two Stripes’ songs have been written on the road and rely on the experiences they’ve made, if it’s the confrontations, encounters or contradictions that women are experiencing all day every day. Following on their sophomore and critically acclaimed, 2019- album, Devil Dance, the band is almost constantly touring. In 2020 Velvet Two Stripes’ last tour ended two weeks before hitting the studio to record their new album. They got invited by the young and adventurous producer Nick Kaufmann into the Relief Studios in Belfaux in the Western part of Switzerland. The first day in the studio is the first day of the Swiss lockdown.

“While our friends are confronted with Corona and isolation we have been in our own bubble aside from the pandemic and apocalyptic moods. But our trip to the studio from Zurich to Belfaux was strange. There were no cars on the highways – but we encountered military tanks and trucks,” the trio remembers. The governmental decreed isolation underlines the band’s solitude even more. “Because we were in the hinterland, surrounded by cows and dung, completely walled-off from our ordinary lives, our jobs and university, we could focus entirely on the recordings. All this lead to an atmosphere much more intimate. We fiddled about from early mornings till late at night.”

Today, the band released a first single and video for the album opener “Fever”! With its vibrant groove that channels the flavor of groups likes The Picturesbooks, the raw and smoky vocals of Sophie Diggelmann and the trio’s addictive riffs, make this first single of Velvet Two Stripes‘ forthcoming album a gritty yet catchy and enthralling ride. “Fever” is now available on all digital streaming platforms, watch their stunning new video clip here

All of their songs, Velvet Two Stripes compose without drums. They have a vague idea of a fitting beat when they’re in the songwriting process, while rhythms are added in the studio with drummer Ramon Wehrle. He is not only a good friend from the music scene of St. Gallen, Switzerland, but has become an important part of the band. Working with him and producer Nick Kaufmann in the studio, was an affair on equal footing. “Nick and Ramon did understand us immediately – and they knew how to carve out the strengths and moods of the songs even more.”

Sugar Honey Iced Tea will be coming out on October 15, 2021 as a D.I.Y. self-release and will be available on Vinyl, CD and in Digital formats.