Carcass – “Torn Arteries”

Carcass – “Torn Arteries” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Battle Helm Rating
A legendary band in the annals of British Death Metal history, Carcass return after 8 years with their 7th studio album “Torn Arteries”. Named with reference to a demo tape recorded by ex co-founder drummer Ken Owen when he was a teenager, “Torn Arteries”, still with co-founders Bill Steer (guitars) and Jeff Walker (bass / lead vocals) remains true to serving up more – well more in fact – than their band’s name and indeed genre might suggest, while remaining true to what Walker calls the “Carcass mythos” as its 10 tracks amply demonstrate. Closer to their final, polished releases like 1993’s “Heartwork” and “Swansong” 3 years later than their more primitive beginnings, “Torn Arteries” pushes the envelope out even further than 2013’s comeback album “Surgical Steel”, openly embracing old fans and new alike, as Carcass, completed by drummer Dan Wilding (Trigger The Bloodshed, Heaven Shall Burn) and guitarist Tom Draper (ex-Angel Witch) continue to prove why they remain a cult band if ever there was one. Masterfully mixing complexity with extremity to an almost artistic level rather than for the sake of it, the likes of the 9 1/2 minute ‘Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited’ will have you immediately drooling as Walker harshly rasps ‘…red queen ant…re-vulsion!!…’ while Steer and Wilding chop away with their riffs topped off by cool melodies, occasionally dropping into technical runs, ambient passages and climatic wailing solos as the band effortlessly phase the mood of the song and thus your emotions in an unforgettable experience! More straightforward (?) is ‘Kelly’s Meat Emporium’, which might start with a straight one-two beat, until Steer unloads a mammoth mutha of a riff to which Carcass hit the gas pedal and we’re off to Wilding’s fast kick beats as Steer and Wilding pile on the pressure, chundering away furiously, mixing warbles with melodies as Walker babbles insanely over it all – fab. Continuing the onslaught with ‘In God We Trust’, whose initial serenity is brutally cut short by thick, chugging riffs and Walker’s scream-drawl, the contrast couldn’t be greater with the punchy memorable chorus and technical solo more expected of Dave Mustaine (!) with an even greater surprise of a melodic AOR passage (!!) inducing complete mental shutdown! Thankfully closing with ‘The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing’, the initial melodic lead accompanied by church bells is yet another AOR red herring as fast, dramatic riff changes topped off by exotic melodies are brutally unleashed and snapped back to Wilding’s pistoning kick beats and Walker’s harsh vocals, only for a jazzy solo to trip you out, bypassing the question of what it’s doing in a death metal song, cos it’s so damn cool! Make no mistake, “Torn Arteries” will leave you exhausted, but ultimately on a high, proving Carcass have learned a thing or two over the years. It’s definitely more than a cookie monster could muster.

Rage – “Resurrection Day”

Rage – “Resurrection Day” CD / 2LP / Boxset (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
No stranger to line up changes in its 37-year history, fans were nevertheless delighted when founder bassist / vocalist ‘Peavey’ Wagner announced a return to the twin guitar days of the mid 90s that saw classic albums like “Black In Mind” and “End Of All Days”. Still with Vassilios ‘Lucky’ Maniatopoulos on the double bass pedals, Rage is now joined by Stefan Weber (ex Axxis) and Jean Bormann (Angelinc) on its 25th release, the aptly titled “Resurrection Day”! Together they have produced 12 tracks in the classic vein of heavy / power metal while trying a thing or two differently in the ballad of ‘Black Room’ and the folkish ‘Travelling Through Time’, as inspired by Renaissance composer Giorgio Mainerio. While ‘Peavey’ is more than able think beyond pure metal clichés, he never disappoints when it comes to Rage’s staple of catchily blending speed with heaviness, and this album is awash with it, thanks to the superb sound courtesy of Rage’s live mixer Dani González Suárez! Opening grandly through the atmospheric orchestral arrangements of Pepe Herrero from Spain in the overture of ‘Memento Vitae’, title track ‘Resurrection Day’ is no less epic thanks to its stirring main melody conveying its depth brought to life by the thick guitar sound from the twin guitarists and Maniatopoulos’ huge drums powering into the singalong chorus lead by ‘Peavey”s heartfelt vocals. With the steam in full flow, Weber and Bormann show their melodic prowess in ‘A New Land’ before unloading more epic riffs laden with chest beating emotion as ‘Peavey”s passionate vocals take it to another singalong chorus as the guitars howl, croon and wail magnificently in this incredible mix of power and soul. Closing with ‘Extinction Overkill’, a summation of the common thread running through all the numbers about the history of mankind from a philosophical and psychological point of view, Maniatopoulos’ thundering drums set the galloping pace to yet another catchy fusion of beautiful melodies, razor sharp riffs that tear and hook into you immediately, and ‘Peavey”s soaring and moving vocals, ceaseless in their appeal to you. Reeking of molten steel as you might expect from one of Germany’s biggest names, “Resurrection Day” is nevertheless abundant in its epic measure, proving all in all to be a superb inauguration of Rage’s new line up!

Criminal – “Sacrificio”

Criminal – “Sacrificio” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Probably Chile’s most famous death / thrash band, Criminal were formed in 1991 and draw direct comparisons to Sepultura from Brazil in their raging style and socio-political lyrical stance. Releasing 8 prior albums, relocating at different points in time to the UK and Spain, Criminal have supported Metallica, Megadeth, Motörhead and Kreator as well as playing Wacken Open Air. Still fronted by sole original member, vocalist/guitarist Anton Reisenegger (Brujeria, Extreme Noise Terror (live), Lock Up, Pentagram Chile), “Sacrificio” bears all the fruit of his exploits over the last 30 years in its 12 killer tracks blending blasting aggression with tons of finesse through its impressive arrangements of monster hooks, catchy melodies and of course, Latin exoticism all slickly packaged with superb sound production – what more could you ask for! Raging just like in the 90s on ‘Dark Horse’, stampeding double bass drums gallop alongside dirty punk / thrash riffs and heaving bass as the massive sound swings back and forth as viciously as it is catchy while Reisenegger’s angst ridden roar is contrasted by the gem like melodies topping off his guitar work – excellent. Like a South American prison riot, ‘Sistema Criminal’ pummels flesh and bone into a hammering groove that is nothing short of addictive as Reisenegger tastefully adds in more exotic melodies while the tempo changes are nothing short of brilliant in making for an atmosphere of manic intensity – wow! Bringing it all together on ‘Hunter And The Prey’, Reisenegger blends tons of wailing technical guitar work into pounding drums and booming riffs that bark as loudly as he roars amid rapid fire tempo changes that make those colossal grooves hit home again and again. In a superb tribute to the best of South American death / thrash, Criminal resurfaces once again to spread its mayhem and havoc.

ILLT – “Urhat”

ILLT – “Urhat” (Indie Recordings)
Battle Helm Rating
Although late into metal and never really an out and out headbanger, the extreme metal alter ego of Norwegian Emmy award winning film composer Roy Westad has been undetachable since he was 15 years old as he learned to play guitar, recording hundreds of riffs over the years without having the real know how of making them into song arrangements. Lacking the experience to join bands, Westad continued in his career, writing scores for countless films and TV projects until now, aged 36, whereupon he’s felt the need to issue this debut or leave it unfinished forever, the latter being the stuff of nightmares for a kid who suffered from low self-esteem. Meaning ‘ancient hate’ in Norwegian, “Urhat” brings together Westad’s composing and guitar talents – backed by some of the finest musicians in metal from Dirk Verbeuren on drums (Megadeth), Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid on vocals (Soilwork), as well as lead guitarists Karl Sanders (Nile) and Mr. Damage from Chrome Division! Mastered by Grammy winning engineer Alan Douches (Cannibal Corpse, Cradle Of Filth, Death, Deicide, Hate Eternal, High On Fire, Mastodon, Prong, Shadows Fall, Six Feet Under, The Black Dahlia Murder etc etc etc), the 6 meaty and magnificent tracks offer bountiful servings of darkness resplendent with the anticipated technical proficiency, yet all with the intent to be easily lapped up in expectation of appreciating their captivating atmospheres. Mixing black with epic and a touch of the exotic in ‘Sons Of The Northern Lights’, the main Nordic riff could be Odin sent as Verbeuren’s power drumming drives the chundering and wailing guitars of Sanders and Mr. Damage, Westad in tow on both guitars and bass, while ‘Speed’ screams and roars as the song careens into black ‘n’ roll before heading back into extreme metal darkness and then acoustic ambiance, finally circling back – well, you can see why it’s 6 1/2 minutes long! Blast beating into ‘Blood Of The Unbeliever’ the epic warrior melody is totally deep man, a real heartbreaker, as the guitars add to the passion (when they’re not raging) along with Westad’s bass as ‘Speed’ sings his throat roar in an intense combination of different tempos with ambient passages, both brief and somewhat longer adding to the mystical atmosphere that is nothing short of captivating – brilliant. Racing for the land speed record on ‘Every Tree A Gallow’, the drums and guitars almost seem to be outdoing each other, although not forgetting more catchy epic melodies and then – whoa – it slows down into a laid back bluesy Southern groove (!) before heading into a chopping djent headbanger and then circling back into the intense centrifuge, cycling over several more times with cool variations between them to leave you exhausted, yet highly elated, at what you’ve just experienced. “Urhat” may have taken Roy Westad a good part of his life to muster, but he leaves you with one reflective thought that ‘…life is short, get your finger out of your ass and do something about it…’ !

MONSTER MAGNET – Solid Gold Hell

Earlier this year, Napalm Records presented the next chapter in psychedelic rock icons MONSTER MAGNET’s rabbit hole deep dive, A Better Dystopia (out now) – a delightfully (and psychotically) curated collection of 60’s and 70’s proto-metal and late-era psych obscurities covered by the heavy New Jersey legends themselves. A Better Dystopia sees the band pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, while reflecting on the paranoia, dystopia and revolution of both now – and then.

Today, MONSTER MAGNET releases the lyric video for their version of The Scientists’ “Solid Gold Hell”. Frontman Dave Wyndorf says: I’m a huge fan of The Scientists and I just love the hell out of this song. It’s hypnotic, dark and sexual with a unique and amazing groove. In a cooler world we’d hear stuff like this blasting out of everyone’s speakers. I’d love to hear Billie Eilish take a crack at this one…”

Regarding the video, he continues: “Joe Tait’s art is so damned interesting… Where else can one find Hieronymus Bosch, Pam Grier, Cold War Soviet monuments, the Dr. Strangelove war room, astronauts, dinosaurs AND rockers all in the same video?”

EXODUS – Clickbait

With a bond forged in youth and decades-old friendship, the undisputed masters of thrash metal return with their eleventh studio album, Persona Non Grata due to be released on November 19th via Nuclear Blast Records. Today, the band releases a lyric video for their second single Clickbait which can be viewed here. Gary Holt comments, “Very excited to launch the release of Clickbait from our upcoming record! Crushing and aggressive as hell, it captures the power of the new record perfectly! Getting more excited by the day. November 19th can’t come fast enough!”

CRADLE OF FILTH – Necromantic Fantasies

After shaking the world to its foundation with the announcement of their 13th manifesto, Existence Is Futile, that will see the light of the day on October 22nd – Cradle Of Filth gather again to bring their next sacrifice to the devilish forces of Dark Metal: today, the band reveals the second single off their new album – Necromantic Fantasies.

Directed by Vicente Cordero, this video was shot back-to-back with his previous work for the band, the horribly apocalyptic Crawling King Chaos, though both are remarkably contrasting.

Dani Filth had this to say of the latest video to enter the Cradle catalogue: “This is a very different video from its predecessor, sporting more of a narrative amid leaning back toward a dark Victorian gothic vibe, showcasing the second of many unique tracks on this, our 13th album. It’s very cinematic, much like Crawling King Chaos, but walking a much more ‘dark faerytale’ path. The director Vicente has done such an amazing job bringing the storyline together with the band and the incredible sets. It looks gorgeous. And the song is pretty good too!”

Preorder Existence Is Futile here: https://bfan.link/existence-is-futile.ema

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,” frontman Dani Filth explains. “The concept wasn’t created by the pandemic. We’d written it long before that began and it is really but the tip of the mountain 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.

UNLEASHED – The King Lost His Crown

Three years after the release of The Hunt for White Christ (2018), iconic Swedish death metal legends UNLEASHED return with their new studio album, No Sign of Life, out November 12, 2021 via Napalm Records – once again setting the ultimate standard of death metal!

The Swedish crew is led by founding frontman Johnny Hedlund, and features drummer Anders Schultz and two guitarists Tomas Måsgard and Fredrik Folkare – delivering and defining supreme death metal for over 32 years. On No Sign of Life, the band formed of Viking descendants transports the listener straight into an outraging battle with 11 forceful tracks that revive the essentials of death metal, facing the sheer brutality of war. UNLEASHED are back to defend their throne, forging another uncompromising musical weapon that continues the marvelous legacy of Vikings.

To satisfy the bloodthirst, UNLEASHED just released their staggering brand new track from No Sign of Life, entitled “The King Lost His Crown”, alongside a sharp lyric music video. The track dives right in without mercy, dominated by destructive guitars, blasting drums and the well-known chunky and brutal screams of genre-carving vocalist Johnny Hedlund. Johnny on the first single: “In the aftermath of the battle of Jorsala, where the Midgard Warriors stood victorious, White Christ is now being hunted from the once so holy city. The enemy flees towards the desert, and his armies are about to lose faith in their leader. It seems that the king lost his crown”.

The silence gets crushed right within the first notes of the album opener “The King Lost His Crown” and invents a paving rage that leaves no time to catch your breath during its entire playing time. The album unfolds with “Where Can You Flee” as an unstoppable war battalion and builds upon UNLEASHED’s well established trademark sound and strong lyrics. Bare boned screams are accompanied by epic shouts praising Odin and heavy guitar riffs as the journey of clashes continues in “The Highest Ideal”, until the album reaches its glorious peak with “Here at the End of the World” as a fading hymn for the victorious march that leaves the battlefield behind in ashes.

The Chief Vikings of Swedish Death Metal leave no doubt that they are still true to their roots after 32 years of existence. UNLEASHED proves that they indeed are and will stay the unchallenged leaders of Sweden’s death metal forefathers! UNLEASHED on the album: “It is our hope that our warriors all over the world will enjoy the new album just like they have our previous ones. We have, as always, tried to stick to our roots while testing our steel to develop the genre of Viking Death Metal even further. Hail Odin!

THULCANDRA – Funeral Pyre

Black/death metal veterans THULCANDRA are back! After six years of silence, the band’s brand new studio album, A Dying Wish, will be released on October 29, 2021 via Napalm Records – once again carrying the burning torch of the glorious death metal era. Since their foundation by Obscura mastermind Steffen Kummerer in 2003, THULCANDRA became an indispensable protagonist in the European extreme metal-sphere that reaches way back to the magnificent origins of their genre. THULCANDRA are musically and visually shaped by bands like Entombed, Sacramentum and Unanimated, but mainly influenced by genre carving act Dissection.

A Dying Wish was produced at Unisound Studio by Dan Swanö, keeping the black flame of Jon Nödtveidt alive and worthy. A Dying Wish transports the listener right into an icy soundscape of a never ending, severe winter. With 10 blood-freezing tracks delivering clashing guitar riffs, epic slow moments driven by atmospheric acoustic guitars and rapid outbursts of dark and raspy screams, THULCANDRA creates another record that continues the great legacy of true death metal. Today, THULCANDRA released their staggering opener track from A Dying Wish, entitled Funeral Pyre, alongside a strong music video! The track swiftly showcases clear direction: a mystic intro launches the calm before the snowstorm, which arrives seconds later with freezing riffs, grim growls and powerful drums.

Steffen Kummerer on the first single: “With “Funeral Pyre” we present you the opening track of A Dying Wish and show you a first glimpse of new music in years. With a foul, unpolished and rotten attitude “Funeral Pyre” takes you on a ride between bitter sweet melodies, fast forward pushing up-tempo blast beats and a sheer steamrolled performance.”

Eclipse – “Saturday Night (Hallelujah)”

Coming off their most successful album yet, “Paradigm” (which includes the massive single ‘Viva La Victoria’ that has 15 million streams and counting), Sweden’s Eclipse are putting the finishing touches on their upcoming new studio album, which will be released this fall. In the meantime, the band has released a brand new single, an anthem for the ages, ‘Saturday Night (Hallelujah)’. See the video for this hooky, impossibly catchy party song HERE

“It was another one of those Saturday nights. At home. But, for the first time in a very long time there was hope. Suddenly there were stories about someone’s mom getting ‘the shot’, an old neighbor who was able to see the grandkids for the first time in a year, and I saw an ad for a gig. A real one, without screens or internet connections. A songwriter buddy of mine was there and we walked back to the studio and wrote most of what would become ‘Saturday Night (Hallelujah)’ in 15 minutes,” says Eclipse frontman Erik Martensson. “There’s absolutely nothing snotty about this song. It’s about partying! Don’t try to tell me you’re not up for a good f***ing party right about now?” continues Martensson.

Over the last few years Eclipse have performed to audiences around the globe, including the U.S, Japan, Australia and Europe and have opened for giants like Aerosmith and the Scorpions. Their albums have amassed millions of streams and charted in several European countries. With the momentum of their last studio album “Paradigm” propelling them, their upcoming studio album promises to push them even further up the rock ‘n roll mountain.