ANAXAGOR ”S/T”

ANAXAGOR
”S/T”
(Great Dane Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Thrash death metal anybody? The first band that sprang to life when I started to listen to this one was the mighty Kreator. A band that I totally love and have done so since the 1980s. This is my kinda extreme metal full of energy and with a cool drive that you can bang your head to relentlessly. This is bloody cool stuff to listen to. And I guess perfect work out music too, if you are into that kinda thing. I am not but I can really see myself power walking with this blasting away in my headphones. The frenzied riffing also makes me think of more contemporary acts like At The Gates. This turned out to be a really good mix of death and thrash metal. Anders Ekdahl

HEBOÏDOPHRENIE ”Cannibalism For Dummies”

HEBOÏDOPHRENIE
”Cannibalism For Dummies”
(Great Dane Records)

Battle Helm Rating

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not the biggest connoisseur of deathcore. So don’t ask me to name drop any bands because that won’t happen in the any foreseeable future. But I am game for anything if it tickles my fancy. And I gotta say; if this is deathcore then I am converted. Because this is really good stuff. It is brutal as hell while also being heavy as fuck. I am usually a bit allergic to break beats and strange twists and turns but this time I don’t mind them too much. This one grinds the hell outta me. And I like it. Anders Ekdahl

SHRAPNEL STORM “S/T”

SHRAPNEL STORM
“S/T”
(Great Dane Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Whenever Bolt Thrower gets mentioned I take extra notice. Bolt Thrower is one of my all time fave bands. Easily on my top 10, if not top 5 of bands that has meant the most to me when it comes to shaping my taste in extreme metal. This Finnish old school death metal band has that vibe to them that makes me think back to old school bands. This is heavy but without losing the groove. To my ears there is something special with the sounds of yesteryears. Nothing against modern day death metal but this is the sound I grew up on and the sound that will be with me until the day I die. It is nice to see that there are bands that keep this alive and push it forward. This one is a gem. Anders Ekdahl

Wytch Hazel – “III: Pentecost”

Wytch Hazel – “III: Pentecost” (Bad Omen Records)
Battle Helm Rating
‘…the music that shows the glory of God the most, in my opinion, is not music created by Christians. It’s Black Sabbath, you know…’, so speaketh Colin Hendra, founder of English medieval folk metallers Wytch Hazel, which is no small statement given the guitarist / vocalist also happens to be a Pentecostal Christian! With an unashamedly time warped sound drawing inspiration from 70s hard rockers like Jethro Tull along with Iron Maiden and the aforementioned Sabbath, expect to hear ethereal acoustics blended with metallic power chords as Hammond organs add to pianos and bounteous harmonies – and all to a distinct English touch bearing similarity to other English bands like Magnum. Taking over a year to complete given Hendra’s near obsession in wanting to deliver a perfect product, I have to say that this 3rd full length release does that in meticulous detail, adding to its already superb organic sound spoken word passages, delicate rain effects and even a cello rendition of Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’! Most of all though, the album achieves its main purpose of being epically stirring and hugely passionate throughout its 10 tracks, that while being diverse in tempo and mood, are both singularly and together in cumulative effect an utter joy to listen to and be captivated by. Beginning with Jack Spencer’s folk drumming and Andy Shackleton’s bass strumming, the powerful medieval melodies hook you in instantly on ‘I Am Redeemed’, and as they dance and twirl to make for the unfolding epic as told through Hendra’s double tracked vocals, the Hammond pumps in its magic, not forgetting the twin guitar splendour of Hendra and Alex Haslam bringing both subtle and overt treats of their own. Opening with acoustics and a subtle bass, but building through harder medieval riffs, nothing could prepare me for the soaring majestic chorus on ‘Archangel’ that stole my heart and brought nothing but tears of joy through its uplifting positivity made all the more emotional through the full bodied, multiply tracked guitars. Richly adorned by its beautiful medieval melodies, ‘Dry Bones’ lends to the epic style definitive of Clarkin and Catley, complete with a singalong power chorus although Hendra impresses with a few power screams of his own, although within the song’s overall depth and emotion. Even on the lighter touch ‘Reap The Harvest’ with its sounds of birdsong and flowing rivers, somber cellos and a lone piano providing an initial melancholy, the darker power chords reminiscent of Angel Witch add a dramatic touch momentarily before transitioning into a 70s bass led prog groove culminating in another powerful singalong pomp rock chorus. Closing with the folkloric ‘Ancient Of Days’, its plucked guitars and an enchanting female spoken word intro herald another galloping medieval melody stirring the heart as ethereal vocals and harmonies add even more charm while the twin guitars dance and joust to bring this epic quest sadly to an end. However, the memories and feeling that Hendra and Wytch Hazel leave you with will doubtless remain long after and forever…..truly magnificent.

Lik – “Misanthropic Breed”

Lik – “Misanthropic Breed” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Oh wow, Lik have released a total killer this time! Revelling in Boss HM-2 Swe-death comes this bloodbath of 11 monster tracks that bring back all the death and glory of Dismember, Entombed and Grave. Formed in 2014, Lik, whose name translates from Swedish as ‘corpse’, have already released 2 prior full-length albums that already turned a few heads, but on “Misanthropic Breed” the quartet have gone for total decapitation! Something of an underground super group made up of vocalist / guitarist Tomas Åkvik (Bloodbath, Katatonia etc), guitarist Niklas Sandin (Bloodbath, Katatonia etc), bassist Joakim Antman (Diatonic, Overtorture, The Ugly) and drummer Chris Barkensjö (Witchery, Carnal Forge, Grave etc), the performances are ultra-tight and feed perfectly into the massive sound courtesy of producer Lawrence Mackrory (Obey Mastering). Recorded during lockdown, it’s pretty clear that the band took all their frustrations and pent up anger into delivering what must be their best album to date – and like I said, it’s an absolute stonker! Right from the ominous tones to ‘Funeral Anthem’ and Antman’s grim bass lines, the morbid melodies backed by thick Swe-death riffs from the twin execution swords of Åkvik and Sandin play merry heaven on your soul – until the death ‘n’ roll begins and then, you know where you’re heading down to….Following up with little abatement in its diddly dee mayhem, ‘Corrosive Survival’ twists and shifts unpredictably as Åkvik drawls morbidly while Barkensjö maintains his thundering beat assault along with plenty of drum rolls – superb. In many cases inspired by older Lik material, ‘Female Fatal To The Flesh’ is an evolved take on ‘The Deranged’ from “Carnage” mixed with ‘Skin Necrosis’ from “Mass Funeral Evocation”, and while being slower, is even thicker and more menacing in its brooding, predatory pace laced by dark melodies as it stalks you through Åkvik’s bestial roars. In total homage to Entombed and Dismember is ‘Morbid Fascination’, which is a complete death ‘n’ roller through its massive but ultra-catchy grooves as Åkvik’s throat raw drawls add to Barkensjö’s demolition drum rolls and ceaseless cymbal decimation. Pretty much ending in the nuclear detonation of ‘Faces Of Death’, every instrument is either screaming or cracking at the seams with more chopping Swe-death brutality hooking you in through that infamous Boss HM-2 sound along to old school melodies, even more drum rolls than you can count to match the relentless double kick pedalling, and Åkvik’s roar that could make a polar bear’s balls shrivel – yep, with no time for Christmas it’s body bags all the way around from Santa’s little helpers folks!

Hittman – “Destroy All Humans”

Hittman – “Destroy All Humans” (No Remorse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Back in the 80s, Hittman were hotly touted to be following in the esteemed footsteps of bands like Queensrÿche, Savatage and Fifth Angel. Having opened concerts for Saxon, Poison, Black ‘n’ Blue and Stryper, singer Dirk Kennedy, who’d been in Anthrax, trained under Marty Lawrence (father of renowned teacher Don Lawrence (Gaga, Bono, Mick Jagger)), an operatic vocal coach so he could keep pace with tenor singers like Geoff Tate, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson! Signed to Steamhammer, who they released their first 2 albums proved to be a mixed blessing that while making them popular in Europe, ironically led this Long Island band to become less connected to their home fans as their releases were only available on import. Despite the likes of Bob St John (Extreme, Duran Duran) producing their 1993 sophomore “Vivas Machina”, the writing was on the wall and following a final tour, Hittman broke up, although no official announcement was made. However, while never achieving mainstream success, the cult status of the band has grown over the last 25 years thanks to loyal followings in Germany, Greece and Japan, where after a sold-out performance at the Keep It True Festival in 2018 featuring the original line up, Hittman acquired the rights to all their releases. Still with the founding core of Kennedy and guitarists Jim Bacchi and John Kirsten, “Destroy All Humans” is the band’s 3rd album and very much seen to be a continuation of their debut, not in the least because it features 2 songs that were written before the release of that self-titled debut! Opening after a lengthy prog intro, the 7 1/2 minute title track ‘Destroy All Humans’ shows just what this band is all about as classic US metal heaviness, including double bass drumming, mixes oh so stylishly with epic melodies and Kennedy’s soaring but tender highs to create an exotic vibe that flows majestically, but is equally unafraid to fly into instant headbanging moments – awesome. Following that is the incredible ‘Breathe’, slow and sultry with its incredibly alluring main riff made even more potent through the wailing twin guitars of Bacchi and Kirsten, Greg Bier’s ballsy bass and contrasted spectacularly by Kennedy’s clean highs filling you with Hittman’s trademark of gutsy heaviness and undeniable melody all into one superb package! Awash with metallic melodies, the fastchugging riffs and Kennedy’s powering highs on ‘Total Amnesia’ makes for another instantly catchy headbang with a strong Euro-metal feel that is sure to hit home to the metal legions that stayed unfalteringly true to this band for over two and a half decades. Still with that winning streak, Hittman bring back all the glory days on this new studio release – their first one in 27 years!

Mind Wars – “The Fourth Turning”

Mind Wars – “The Fourth Turning” (Dissonance Productions)
Battle Helm Rating
If you’re a fan of the short-lived genre of speed metal, then Mind Wars will no doubt be your trip! Formed by none other than Holy Terror guitarist Mike Alvord and drummer Roby Vitari (Headcrasher), who first got together whenHoly Terror was touring with Nuclear Assault and Exodus back in 1989, it comes as no surprise that this band is named after Holy Terror’s critically acclaimed sophomore. Since being formed in 2014, Mind Wars have released a full-length studio album every two years, with “The Fourth Turning” as hinted by its title, being the 4th instalment. Although occasionally going into low gear, Mind Wars is authentic speed metal from the 80s, so expect an intense performance with the hyper speed guitars of Alvord and Danny ‘Z’ Pizzi shredding in every regard while exuding jaw dropping technicality at every opportunity, be it through classy licks, mind bending breaks and awesome guitar god solos! Matched by Vitari’s anabolic drum work and Rick Zaccaro’s gigantic bass, the quartet take the glory of Holy Terror and blend it with the 80s thrash graces of Kreator and not in the least, Slayer during their pinnacle of “Reign In Blood”, even going so far as to offer a faster version of ‘Criminally Insane’!!! Conceptually covering topics of war, civil unrest, disease and authoritarian governments this time around, the likes of ‘(Who’ll Stop The) Aryan Race’ with its hostile rapid-fire lyrics and raw nihilistic riffing bolstered by dexterous fretboard work together delivered at unbelievable speed instantly hook you in as much with intensity as with intricacy. With tremolos wailing along to thick ‘n’ dirty riffs on ‘Digital Dictatorship’, the wailing melodies add to the build-up before the song detonates, driven by Vitari’s double bass blast-beating and screaming fretboard work as Alvord’s desperate vocal style is more than reminiscent of Holy Terror’s late, but still lamented singer Keith Deen. Power chording in ominously on ‘Blood Red’, the melodies add a macabre touch before the pistoning beats kick in amid more wailing tremolos while Alvord’s vocals this time also darkly drawl along to his singing, although again, it’s the dazzling twin guitar work that once again impresses, just like it did when Alvord was lending his youthful virtuosity to Holy Terror. Indeed, it’s more than pleasing for me to hear everything that was great about that band not lost but lending its hand to something modern with the potential to be as cherished.

HATEBREED – Working with Zeuss on Weight Of The False Self

Nuclear Blast artist Hatebreed will release their eighth studio album Weight of The False Self. The 12-track album is stocked with pit-stirring anthems. It arrives on November 27 and is available for pre-order here.

The band has shared a new album trailer, in which singer Jamey Jasta and guitarist Wayne Lozinak discuss the process of working with producer Zeuss, and the unique sounds that were captured on the record. You will also learn exactly what “bitch ears” are.

Weight of the False Self arrives on the heels of the sold-out anniversary shows that Hatebreed embarked upon throughout 2019 and the unprecedented success of 2016’s The Concrete Confessional. Not only did the latter tally over 42 million Spotify streams, but the single “Looking Down The Barrel of Today” also clocked 30 million-plus Spotify streams. Over 20 years deep into its career, this Connecticut hardcore metal institution remains as vital as ever.

Renowned for their ability to provide an intense and cathartic release for their fans, Hatebreed challenged themselves and their writing style in order to produce material that is exceptionally relatable in a contemporary world flooded with overstimulation, emotional dampening, and lack of social patience. “Weight of The False Self” is a perfect representation of Hatebreed in 2020, a fresh onslaught of soon-to-be classics with all the elements that led you here since day one,” explains guitarist Frank Novinec.

Drummer Matt Byrne shares, “There’s no shortage of beefy riffs and adrenaline-fueled drums on this record. I’m proud to say that we will consistently provide a soundtrack to which you can mosh in your living room and destroy your apartment.”

Pre order the new album here: https://www.hatebreed.com/wotfs

HAMMERFALL – Keep The Flame Burning (Live)

HAMMERFALL have just released a second video for “Keep The Flame Burning”, which perfectly captures the highly energetic spirit of HAMMERFALL’s new live album & BluRay, Live! Against The World. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their chart-storming album Renegade (2000), the song, which rarely appears on their setlists, shines in a bright new light and pushes live productions to the next level.

With absolutely impressive, grand live production, huge arenas and overwhelming pyrotechnics, HAMMERFALL, the Swedish saviors of Heavy Metal, took over the world in 2019/2020 with their World Dominion tour. On this bombastic tour, they did not only celebrate the worldwide charting success of their freshly released 2019 studio album Dominon, but also the jubilee of the legendary Renegade album, by adding “Keep The Flame Burning” and an impressive Renegade medley to the setlist.

HAMMERFALL are on the rise with Joacim Cans’ distinctive voice and flawlessly executed guitar parts, which finalize this live record of the legendary show at the MHP Arena in Ludwigsburg, Germany – there’s magic in the air! Guitarist and founding member Oscar Dronjak on the new video: “It’s the 20th anniversary of Renegade, and to celebrate that accordingly we included some special songs in the set list. One of my all-time favourite songs is “Keep The Flame Burning”, and it was so cool to see it return after so many years’ absence!”