PACT “The Infernal Hierarchies, Penetrating the Threshold of Night”

PACT “The Infernal Hierarchies, Penetrating the Threshold of Night“ (Moribund) This is the sophomore full length release of American black metallers Pact. The playing is catchy and tight, bringing to mind US black metal bands like Absu and Von (albeit with far better recording & production). The thing which eventually grew a bit tiresome for me was what I would call the dual possession style vocals. As an accent this would be great for a chorus or part of a track but with each of the 9 songs utilizing this same vocal effect I found myself really enjoying the parts… Continue reading

Deathdestruction “II”

DEATHDESTRUCTION “II” (Gain Music) Built from members of HammerFall, Evergrey  & Dead By April and sporting a name such as “Deathdestruction” I really expected something different than what I’m hearing. Not having heard the debut I can’t make any sort of comparisons to it. The music on display here is groovy, catchy and well performed but very much in the “extreme radio metal” genre.  Some kinda ballad here with the track “Towards The Light” followed by the next track which has a definite metal-rap vibe happening. Commercial Alternative Rock is always a bad description to be sure but I really… Continue reading

ALBINO RHINO – “Albino Rhino”

Albino Rhino “Albino Rhino” Inverse Records What better cover for an album from a band like Albino Rhino than a big old moss covered rock!? Heavy old fashioned doom metal is what you’re in for here but unlike a lot of doom metal this doesn’t bore me completely to tears. There is more than enough movement, groove and harkening back to the old days to keep me awake and attentive. Vocals are rough but still rather clean, along the lines of Saint Vitus & Black Sabbath with no real extreme (death) vocals. Said to be recorded live in one take… Continue reading

Phlebotomized – “Immense Intense Suspense & Skycontact”

Phlebotomized Immense Intense Suspense & Skycontact (Hammerheart) Older folks will remember the early experimental death metal albums of the 1990s by bands like The Gathering, Pan.Thy.Monium, Paradise Lost, Cemetary, Sentenced, etc. These two remastered re-issues by Hammerheart of Dutch experimentalists Phlebotomized belong right along in the list with those. Listening to each brought me right back to the 1990s. Both releases “Immense Intense Suspense” (1994)  “Skycontact” (1997) having a foundation in death metal yet having the inclination to seek out influences from progressive and varied elements. Both releases are enjoyable albums which you’ll need to play a few times to begin… Continue reading

MIND – “Save Yourself From Hell”

MIND “Save Yourself From Hell” (Selfmadegod Records) Here we have some German crust punk made by two guys Dzuma & Arek (formerly of Toxic Bonkers and Ebola). There are guest appearances by Dean of UK crusties Extreme Noise Terror & Denis of Doom on two of the tracks. While no new ground is being broken musically (it is crust afterall) there is still some nice catchy groovy moments. It is well recorded with  pretty decent production which seems to be a rarity with crust releases. – Josh Cook Continue reading

BLOODTHIRST – “Chalice of Contempt”

BLOODTHIRST “Chalice of Contempt” (Pagan Records) This is the third full length of these Polish (I guess?) old school blackened thrashers in their 15 year history. If you can ignore the fact the cover art is completely god awful the music itself is enjoyable in that early Sodom and Hellhammer way. You’ll find a few guitar solos and moments of really solid riffing and old metal flourishes thrown in to add in a bit of variation. Overall an enjoyable release. -Josh Cook Continue reading

CROWNED IN EARTH – “A Vortex of Earthly Chimes”

“A Vortex of Earthly Chimes”
Black Widow Records

Groovy 70’s style Doom Rock / Metal – this band even has their own Mellotron player! Bringing to mind Black Sabbath, Nektar, Atomic Rooster and I’d even say there’s some Creme influence in the mix. Crowned in Earth creates a slow and doomy classic psychedelic rock adventure that continues moving forward and doesn’t get mired in repetition. Continue reading


In the midst of seeking out bands to put together a compilation CD of Chinese metal bands I came across a band I really couldn’t get out of my head. A pagan folk metal act called Tengger Cavalry who combines throat singing, horse head fiddle and heavy metal with extreme vocals. I liked the band so much I offered to make their album the first release on Metal Hell Records. As far as I know this is the first interview for Tengger Cavalry outside of China. Interview was conducted with main songwriter & composer Nature Zhang.
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MIDNIGHT “Complete and Total Hell”

MIDNIGHT “Complete and Total Hell” CD/Double LP (Hells Headbangers)

Fuck yeah! This is the kinda “black” heavy metal I can get into. It’s as if Motorhead impregnated Venom and they had a punk rock baby. Fusing all the best elements of filthy satanic metal with the energy of hardcore and you get a highly charged and energetic album with a bright open sound, not “dark” and muddled. I can envision gigs with punks and metallers both enjoying this band a great deal. Continue reading


(Stellar Auditorium)

Much of Spectral Lore’s output on this CD seems to built on the one string black metal foundation with keyboards and lots of reverb over the top. The music contains a mountain of tempo and time changes but perhaps due to the wild smattering of riffing through each song, none of the tracks on Sentinel really stands out as memorable or “catchy”. Continue reading