Dee Snider – “Leave A Scar”

Dee Snider – “Leave A Scar” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
‘…Hey mutha fucker are you kidding me? This is a lesson that I give for free…’. No kidding, if there was one rocker who sez it like he means it, Dee Snider’s gotta be that guy. A well-known TV and radio mouthpiece who’s called it right plenty of times, Snider’s seen it thru thick ‘n’ thin since ’76 with the mighty Twisted Sister from Long Island! Going solo at the turn of the century, “Leave A Scar” is his 5th solo album, recorded with the same line up of guitarists Charlie Bellmore (Kingdom Of Sorrow) and Nick ‘Taz’ Petrino (My Missing Half, Sonic Pulse), bassist Russ Pzutto (an understudy for the bassist Mark ‘Animal’ Mendoza) and nuclear drummer Nick Bellmore (Toxic Holocaust). Continuing Snider’s defiant, against-the-odds determination to carry on fighting, the 12 tracks rage like Rocky into the championship rounds simply refusing to go down! From nitro fuelled rockers to anthemic stadium shakers and heavy ass street stompers, the tone is definitely more aggressive than Twisted Sister, although there are undeniably aspects of that great band in there too, while the Snider’s signature vocal sound is unmistakeable. Opening with ‘I Gotta Rock (Again)’, the twin guitars sound like engine beasts as they riff out thick ‘n’ fast as Snider proudly proclaims ‘…there’s no better feeling…it’s a Heavy Metal healing…be advised…I’m gonna rock until the day that I die..’ before the solos blaze into a headbanging, air punching passage that rages unto the end – awesome! Adding to the rhyming lyrics on ‘Down But Never Out’, massive hardcore shout outs bring it on to chunky riffs and double kick beats while contrasted by catchy lead breaks and Snider’s own impassioned vocals on this chugger of a number that stokes in as much fire as soul – wow. Slowing it down but heavier than all on ‘S.H.E’, the mutha of all riffs grabs you by the ballz in leading up to the anthemic chorus suavely laced by a chiming melody before the wailing solos take off to double bass beats on this superb song skillfully mixing heaviness with heart. Rapid firing on ‘The Reckoning’, abrasive guitars, hammering bass and pounding drums headbang to the gods along with more raging shout outs and icy melodies on this dark number as Snider calls in the marker intimidatingly on some poor soul thru lines like ‘…there’s nothing that you can do…you’re living in fear…you’ll never know what hit you…’ – superb. Once again produced by Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) with George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher (Cannibal Corpse) guesting, “Leave A Scar” is a mutha of an album.

King Woman – “Celestial Blues”

King Woman – “Celestial Blues” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If melancholic, siren-esque wailings blossoming from heavy psych doom is your trip, then San Franciso’s King Woman will no doubt appeal to you! Comparable to similar femme fronted metal bands like Windhand and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, King Woman’s Kristina Esfandiari is no less of a force both vocally, where her exotic Persian and Serbian heritage have had much influence, but equally her wider musical projects like the drone noise of Nightcrwler, the shoegaze of Miserable and the rap of Dalmatian. Releasing their debut “Created In The Image of Suffering” in early 2017, King Woman return with a meaty follow up in “Celestial Blues”, whose 9 tracks are a mix of droning doom sludge and ambient melancholia. Thanks to the huge sound which does fine justice to the massive down tuned riffs of Peter Arendorf along with Joseph Raygoza’s drum pounding, the captivating atmosphere is no less enshrouding thanks to Esfandiari’s trance inducing vocals that wail and snake their way around your mind and into your soul – man, it’s trip! Opening serenely to delicate strings and Esfandiari’s oral hypnosis on ‘Morning Star’, it takes but an instant for the lulling tranquillity to be shattered as the instruments crash in like a tidal wave of power riffs, booming bass and drum roll barrages, only for more trippy harmonies to come chanting in to build to a galactic culmination – wow. If ‘Boghz’ is from the Farsi describing an emotional build in the throat before venting, then this song expresses it perfectly, slowly building from ambient melancholia to musical anger and finally unloading Esfandiari’s vocal fury in a storm of down tuned doom riffs, growling bass, feedback and earth-shattering drums – brilliant. Adding acoustics to the exoticism of ‘Golgotha’, Esfandiari’s harmonies along with some subtle eastern percussion show the influences of her other work, along with some dramatic background screams, before heavy droning riffs bring their savage contrast to this alt, but no less epic track – superb. Beginning as a solo project over a decade ago, Kristina Esfandiari has built King Woman into the force that she has come to be.

CRADLE OF FILTH – Crawling King Chaos

Belched from Hell’s depths into the rustic charms of the Witch County, Suffolk, thirty long and disturbing years ago, Cradle Of Filth are undisputed giants of the heavy metal realm. Imperious purveyors of a perennially unique strain of dark, dastardly and willfully extreme metal, with deep roots in the worlds of gothic horror and occult curiosity, the band led by Dani Filth has weathered three decades of tumult and trial, earning a formidable reputation as both a singular creative force and one of the most riotously entertaining live bands the metal world has ever produced.

Now the gates of hell have finally opened up again, to reveal the band’s 13th manifesto, recorded during the lockdown periods of 2020 and entitled Existence Is Futile (out 22nd October). Pieced together in isolation, at Grindstone Studios in Suffolk with studio guru Scott Atkins (Devilment/Benediction/Vader), the band’s latest chef-d’oeuvre is a pitch-black, perverse and at times absurdly brutal and extreme masterpiece following a truly nihilistic concept:

“The album is about existentialism, existential dread and fear of the unknown,” front man Dani Filth explains. “The concept wasn’t created by the pandemic. We’d written it long before that began, but the pandemic is the tip of the cotton-bud as far as the way the world is headed, you know? I guess the title, Existence Is Futile, does sound a little morbid. But again, it’s more about recognising that truth and saying that everything is permitted because nothing really matters, which mimics the occultist Aleister Crowley’s maxim. We all know we’re going to die, so we might as well indulge life while we possess it. The final track on the album – ‘Us, Dark, Invincible’ – really drives that point home. Also, the artwork for this record was created by the Latvian visionary Arthur Berzinsh, who also dressed the last two albums, and that reeks of the exceedingly beautiful yet apocalyptic too.”

Diehard fans will be thrilled to learn that horror icon Doug ‘Pinhead’ Bradley makes a welcome return to the Cradle fold, lending his dulcet tones to the band’s most politically astute song to date, the epic ‘Suffer Our Dominion’ as well as the album bonus track ‘Sisters Of The Mist’, which is the conclusion to the ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’ trilogy that started over 20 years ago on the infamous and classic Midian.

Yet today, the hellhounds from Suffolk will reveal one of their most brutal tracks on the new album, accompanied by an infernal music video directed by Vicente Cordero. Poison your eyes and ears with Cradle Of Filth’s latest Lovecraftian anthem and evoke the ‘Crawling King Chaos’ here

The album pre-order starts on this fateful day of July, so reserve your copy or pre-save the album via this link: https://bfan.link/existence-is-futile.ema

KREATOR – Golden Age (Remastered 2021)

Every KREATOR fan is familiar with the 1999 album “Endorama”. It is the incontrovertible proof that KREATOR have been metal icons and still are. Now, over 22 years later, the bold statement that is “Endorama” gets the ultimate makeover – released as a completely overhauled remaster that adds a whole lot of punch to the sound and shows that this album still stands strong even against modern standards!

The 9th studio album by Trash Metal band KREATOR will be released as digipak with the original version and the remastered album. The new piece will also be available as vinyl in partly exclusive colors. This can only be topped by the Ultimate Boxset, which includes both CDs, the vinyl, an “Endorama” poster (A3), an “Edorama” T-shirt and an enclosed demo with previously unreleased tracks.

But be quick – the box is strictly limited to 1000 units! I For pre-sale click here: https://shop.afm-records.de/kreator/

To get in the right mood for the upcoming album, the metal legends already delivered their first video of “Golden Age”, which was released last Friday.

LEAVES’ EYES – Blazing Waters

Anno 1066, the last Viking king, called Hardråde, is dead – the era of the Vikings is over. Long live the Vikings! After the 2020 monumental work “The Last Viking” by LEAVES’ EYES, in 2021 we focus our attention specifically on the documentary “VIKING SPIRIT”, which is now released exclusively in a bundle with the album, the instrumentals and the soundtrack to the documentary on Blu-Ray!

LEAVES’ EYES singer Alexander Krull is a real force in Viking reenactment and does important pioneering work with his documentary about the Viking scene, which is becoming more and more popular and about his life as a sword fighter. In a over 100 minutes long documentary (incl. the new bonus chapter) you will learn everything about the focus and the diversity of Viking lifestyle. With subtitles in German, English, French and Spanish, all Viking fans can experience for themselves how incredibly international the scene is nowadays! The documentary shows with a surprising ease the diversity of Viking reenactment and gives you the desire to plunge into this hobby yourself!

The Bundle is available for pre-sale now: https://shop.afm-records.de/leaves-eyes/

As a harbinger of the upcoming album release, LEAVES ’EYES released their latest video “Blazing Waters”on Friday.

VADER – Blood Of Kingu

Polish death metal legends Vader released their much acclaimed 15th full length record Solitude In Madness in 2020 and proved to the world that even after almost 40 years of existence, they were still one of the leading forces within their genre and beyond. However, let’s not forget that the year 2020 also marked the 25th anniversary of Vader’s classic and much sought-after 2nd album De Profundis (first released 1995 in Poland), which hasn’t been properly available in physical form in about two decades, although it’s regarded by many fans as one of the best albums in the band’s catalogue.

But rejoice, Vader and Nuclear Blast have today re-released De Profundis fully remastered and on various formats, including its first ever appearance on vinyl!

Founding member Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek commented: “De Profundis was never released on vinyl. The mid-90s were dominated by CDs. The original tape from Modern Sound Studio was lost with no chance of recovering it, so we made a new master using a Telefunken professional tape studio recorder to give the whole record a warmer sound, a more analogue feel and dynamics, but without altering the original version of course.”

Order De Profundis here (incl. various limited editions): http://nblast.de/Vader-DeProfundis

Stream De Profundis: https://bfan.link/de-profundis

Rivers of Nihil – Clean

On September 24th, Rivers of Nihil will release their fourth full-length, The Work, via Metal Blade Records. For a first preview of the album, a video for the new single “Clean” (directed by Mike Truehart) can be viewed here.

Reading, Pennsylvania’s Rivers Of Nihil have never fit neatly into a box, but with 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name, they transcended all labels applied to them. Returning in 2021 with The Work, they have forged further into new territory, delivering an album that is as cerebral as it is visceral, and that covers a staggering sonic range, definitively placing them in a category of their own. Inarguably a very dense, heavy collection, The Work is far too dynamic to be considered a solely metal record, and there is a genuine warmth that shows through, particularly on “Wait” and the gorgeous “Maybe One Day,” and the band have included far more clean vocals alongside the screaming that tears through many of the heavier tracks. Courtesy of their friend Zach Strouse, saxophone once again adds extra layers of atmosphere to the collection, utilizing baritone, soprano and alto saxes to great affect.

With guitars and synths/keys tracked at Uttley’s home studio, the band then we went back for the third album in a row to Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland at Atrium Audio to do drums, vocals, bass, sax, and mixing. “We’ve done so many sessions with those guys that they’re basically an extension of our band at this point. They usually know what we like, and we always encourage them to roast us to make stuff better,” says guitarist Brody Uttley. Alongside the band, James Dorton from Black Crown Initiate provided some vocals on “Episode,” Grant McFarland played cello on “The Void From Which No Sound Escapes”, and Uttley’s friend Stephan Lopez helped out with all of the field recordings, an integral part of the sonic textures of the record.

Jeff Scott Soto – “Mysterious” ft. Eric Martin (Mr. Big)

The renowned US rock singer Jeff Scott Soto has announced the release of a new solo album, ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’, which will be released on 8th October. A retrospective with a twist, it contains re-recordings of favourite songs from his career to date, but with the added bonus of presenting them as duets with fellow vocalists who are also personal friends. A first taste of the album is available today with the release of ‘Mysterious’ (originally performed by Soto with Talisman), on which he is joined by Eric Martin of Mr. Big.

Using the downtime from his normally relentless touring activity that had been caused by the global pandemic, Soto decided to create this special album, which quickly turned into a truly international vocal affair. Aside from Martin, it features Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T.), Johnny Gioeli (Hardline), Deen Castronovo (Revolution Saints, Journey), Nathan James (Inglorious), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Renan Zonta (Electric Mob), Dino Jelusick, Mats Leven (Candlemass, TSO), BJ (Spektra, SOTO) and Alirio Netto (Shaman, Queen Extravaganza).

Boasting this line-up along with a tracklisting that will surely make all of Soto’s fans excited, the singer himself simply states that “It was a DREAM to cast these voices and I am so amped for you to hear the results.”

Jeff Scott Soto surely needs no introduction to any discerning melodic rock fan. Launching his career at the age of 18 as the lead vocalist on Yngwie Malmsteen’s debut album, ‘Rising Force’ and its follow-up ‘Marching Out’, those initial steps into the spotlight led on to a career in which he has played and worked with numerous artists in multiple genres, from the AOR of Eyes and Takara, to the hard rock and metal of Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell, Soul SirkUS, his time with the legendary Journey, plus Trans-Siberian Orchestra and W.E.T.. He has also maintained his solo career and more recently joined up with the progressive metal supergroup Sons of Apollo.

AETHER REALM – Cycle

North Carolina’s AETHER REALM reached new levels of melodic death metal mastery with the release of their latest full-length album, Redneck Vikings From Hell, in 2020. Today, in anticipation of their upcoming U.S. tour with Unleash The Archers and Seven Kingdoms, the band has unveiled a gripping, emotive new video for their triumphant track “Cycle”, featuring Michael Rumple (Flood District, Lorelei), off of Redneck Vikings From Hell.

Frontman/bassist Vincent “Jake” Jones says: “The lyrics for ‘Cycle’ came to me in a desperate place. I was trying to make sense of why I still experienced these long episodes of depression, even when there didn’t seem to be an obvious reason for it to come on. It’s like it was always waiting to sneak up and snatch me out of the moment, and no amount of personal growth or skill mastery or artistic recognition could prevent it from taking me in it’s grip. So I thought – if I can’t prevent the feeling from coming on, I can at least give myself a tangible reminder that this is normal for me. That I’ve made it out of low places before, and I will again. This song helps keep my feet on the ground when I’m feeling cocky highs, and it gives me some hope when I’m running low. It was a pleasure to turn that emotional blooming and wilting that we all experience from time to time into a visual aesthetic with Jaraad Nageer and Ana Manso.”

As mentioned above, AETHER REALM will join headliners Unleash The Archers and fellow special guests Seven Kingdoms on a U.S. tour this fall, kicking off in Minneapolis, MN on September 1 at Cabooze. The tour will visit several major cities before coming to an end in Seattle, WA on September 26 at El Corazon. See below for a full listing of tour dates.

Unleash The Archers, Aether Realm & Seven Kingdoms U.S. Tour Dates:

9/1: Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
9/2: Chicago, IL @ Reggies – SOLD OUT
9/3: Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
9/4: Pittsburgh, PA @ Preserving Underground
9/5: Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
9/7: Providence, RI @ Alchemy
9/8: New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
9/9: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
9/10: Greensboro, NC @ The Blind Tiger
9/11: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (Heaven)
9/12: Orlando, FL @ The Haven
9/14: Austin, TX @ Come and Take it Live
9/15: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
9/16: Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street Collective
9/17: Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
9/18: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre – SOLD OUT
9/19: Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
9/21: Mesa, AZ @ Nile Theater
9/22: Los Angeles, CA @ 1720
9/23: San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick
9/24: Petaluma, CA @ The Phoenix Theater
9/25: Portland, OR @ Dante’s
9/26: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon

Pia Isaksen – SUPERLYNX Bassist/Vocalist Launches Solo Project & Signs To Argonauta

Bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen from the Norwegian heavy psych and doom band Superlynx has launched her first solo affair entitled PIA ISA! Her debut album will be released in early 2022 through powerhouse label Argonauta Records. Having played and written music for most of her life, a solo album has been brewing in Pia´s mind for a long time. Recorded in early 2021, the album will feature high class guests such as Ole Teigen (Superlynx) on drums and guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere) on three of the album tracks.

As much as Pia loves playing with Superlynx and other fellow artists, her ideas for this album seemed more right to work through on her own. Her music is rooted in slow heavy drones but also has a lighter, dreamy and hopeful side. She is inspired by massive soundscapes, heavy psych, meditative moods, desert vibes and eastern scales as well as her nordic coastal surroundings. Superlynx listeners may recognize her slow, heavy, minimalistic riffs and haunting sometimes chanting voice, but also fans of acts such as Chelsea Wolfe may fall in love with her solo sound! Being open minded and not caring about fitting to any genres but channeling honest and heartfelt music in her own way, the lyrics on Pia‘s debut are deeply personal and stretches from the very inner self and throughout nature. According to Pia, “writing and recording the album has been a very cathartic process.“

Slated for a release early next year through Argonauta Records and with many more details and songs to follow soon, you can now listen to a first album teaser by PIA ISA here