Audrey Horne – “Waiting For The Night”

Audrey Horne – “Waiting For The Night” CD / LP / Blu-Ray (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Wow – I didn’t know that Audrey Horne were this popular, but the roar from the crowd on this live release is simply deafening! “Waiting For The Night” is the band’s first live release and it proves that over the course of 18 years, 6 studio albums and countless live shows that Audrey Horne are one of the must see live hard rock bands and here in their hometown of Bergen in Norway, the atmosphere is nothing short of electric!! With not one but two live sets totaling 16 tracks, “Waiting For The Night” takes the listener through the nearly 2 decade career of this amazing band who take their name from the character in the cult early 90s TV series “Twin Peaks” and are made up of members from underground metal bands like Enslaved, Sahg and Gorgoroth, who choosing a different path altogether, play hard rock and heavy metal inspired by Iron Maiden, Alice In Chains and especially Thin Lizzy. Still, what makes this live album essential is not just the performance of the band but the Bergen crowd, who on both occasions really show their love for these hometown boys. I mean, the ecstatic roar that greets them is the stuff of envy and is over all the numbers, so as the hard beat of ‘Audrevolution’ sounds so does the en masse clap over the deep bass before those massive Thin Lizzy guitar warbles set the place on fire in time for the massive singalong chorus – wow! Continuing in fine Celtic style on ‘Out Of The City’, Toschie’s laid back croons are joined by crowd singing and finally roaring to singalong chorus climax in amazing embrace and energy that is abundantly felt by the listener on this excellent sound quality recording. Clearly on fire by the time ‘California’ rolls in with its beautiful organs adding even more heartfelt passion to this already heated number, stoked by the dual Celtic guitar melodies, the build up to the climatic chorus is nothing short of orgasmic – and that’s before those passionate but totally rock out guitar solos hit man. Saving the best till last ‘Redemption Blues’ with its mellower than Maiden style through a 70s hard rock rinse has the entire venue (and myself!) off its feet and in an air punching, headbanging frenzy with that air guitar close to hand as those lethal twin guitars go to work one final time as the crowd roars and roars for more. Honestly, this is a total knock out from start to finish!!!

Shakra – “Mad World”

Shakra – “Mad World” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Reflected in their multiple and regular chart entries in Germany and of course Switzerland, hard rockers Shakra are fast approaching their 25th year anniversary, so what better way to celebrate it than with another stonking new album! As can be expected from a band of this caliber, who’ve toured with Gotthard, HammerFall and Stratovarius, as well as played festivals like Bang Your Head, “Mad World” is 12 tracks of ball grabbing hard rock awash with heavy hooks, singalong choruses and memorable melodies all superbly arranged to be hugely catchy. A reflection of the chaotic moments both in the band’s career and in the world in general, this 11th album takes on those turbulent times with an energy that has kept the band going through them, and indeed, there’s a strong never say die vibe to the material which as you can imagine sounds just as good live as it does in the studio! It’s clearly evident as the twin pulsating pick ups stoke the hard rock n roll opener ‘Fireline’ and like a Harley revving off, the music roars as Mark Fox’s soul takes us to the crowd singalong chorus, not forgetting the rock out solos from guitarists Thom Blunier and Thomas Muster. Next up is ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’, an initially brooding piece that builds slowly in power with Fox adopting a slight gravelly edge but brilliantly offset by its catchy but punchy melodic chorus complete with soft harmonies. Then there’s ‘A Roll  Of The Dice’ with smashing drums, heavy riffs and wailing guitars that takes you right back to Shakra’s beginnings and again, brought to climax by a huge heartfelt chorus that you could be singing in a stadium! For the deeper thinkers, then ‘When It All Falls Down’ with its slightly melancholic vibe that touches the soul beautifully and complemented by some truly moving guitar, yet offset by some uplifting epic riffs accompanying the chorus is undeniable in its spirit. Mad world it may be, but Shakra have their eyes dead on target here.

Neaera – “Neaera”

Neaera – “Neaera” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
After blasting out no less than 6 full length releases and being able to place themselves in the German album charts along with countless shows all over Europe and appearances at renowned festivals, Neaera announced their split after a sold out farewell tour in 2015. Now, seven years after their last album, these death metalcore monsters from Münster have returned in this self titled release that pretty much takes off where the band left off. Still with the same members, longtime friend and producer Tristan Hachmeister, along with previous artist Terje Johnsen, the 11 tracks are 100% reflective of Neaera’s award winning trademarks – so all in all the perfect return for their loyal fans! Clearly honed through heavy touring, the sound is reflective of that live setting, intense from the off through the raw screamo of Benjamin Hilleke’s piercing vocals and the heavy, shredding twin guitars of Stefan Keller and Tobias Buck that churn n burn in massive riff unison while equally dexterous individually in delivering the attention getting hooks and most of all, memorable melodies that add a deep and epic touch in just the right place. As you might expect from a seasoned band like this, it’s not just the deep compositions but the cerebral arrangements that make Neaera such a popular band, and on this album, it’s easy to see why that is! Reminiscent of In Flames in its initial twin guitar sound on ‘False Shepherds’, the fast spiraling melodies soon evolve into a sound of their own as Hilleke unloads his screamo and roars before leveling the field with a slow, atom smashing stomping piece guaranteed to bring the headbanger outta you. On ‘Carriers’ its back into overdrive as the double bass drumming overload propels the huge grooves driven by ominous whirring guitars to possess you as Hilleke drills into your brain, but again with some tasteful some epic melodies to shine through, reflecting the quality measure of the band. With a Slayer touch, ‘Rid The Earth Of The Human Virus’ brilliantly melds classic thrash with Scandi melodic death as Hilleke stretches his own pipes amid countless roars and screams while the warbling melodies on ‘Sunset Of Mankind’ definitely stick in the mind along with the hard, chop riffing that both go a long way into making a gargantuan and almost blackish atmosphere on this immensely powerful piece. Ending with ‘Deathless’, epic aspects of At The Gates in an aggressive, chundering metalcore mix add the final exciting touch amid more subtle melodies on this brilliant comeback album that would appeal to anyone into Heaven Shall Burn but equally classic bands like Pantera along with newer groups like Nails.

TESTAMENT – Alex Skolnick In His Element – AIR

The time has arrived for legendary Bay Area thrash metal giants TESTAMENT to unleash new thunder to the masses and reveal their thirteenth studio album, Titans Of Creation, which will be released on April 3rd via Nuclear Blast.

Just as the elements of this planet thrive within all living creatures, each musician in TESTAMENT represents a necessary component of this latest musical creation. Today the band launches their multi-part series examining each member in their respective element. Watch the first episode focusing on Alex Skolnick in his element (air), here

Pre-order your copy of Titans Of Creation on the format of your choice here: nblast.de/TestamentTOC

Pre-save the album on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer: nblast.de/TESTAMENTpreSave

Still filled with a massive and unstoppable energy since their last release, TESTAMENT have taken their style to the next level and present an album that is loyal to the roots of traditional thrash metal while still including alluring, brilliant and progressive ingredients that they are known for.

Titans Of Creation was produced by Chuck Billy and Eric Peterson while Juan Urteaga of Trident Studios handled co-producing, recording and engineering. Andy Sneap was responsible for the mixing and mastering of the album. Eliran Kantor stepped up once again to create a new masterpiece of artwork for the cover of this release.

Titans Of Creation will be available in the following formats
CD Jewelcase
Vinyl + CD Mail-Order Box Set
Vinyl Black Vinyl
Vinyl Picture Disc
Fire Element Limited Edition Vinyl
Air Element Limited Edition Vinyl
Water Element Limited Edition Vinyl

ROSS THE BOSS – Denied By The Cross

It’s time for a dose of pure, raw metal! ROSS THE BOSS, the legendary co-founder of Manowar, and his band are back with a merciless new single called “Denied By The Cross”. The track comes off the upcoming album “Born Of Fire”, which will be released on March 6th.

Cirith Ungol – “Legions Arise”

On April 24th, Cirith Ungol will release their new album, Forever Black – their first collection of all-new material in 29 years! For a preview of Forever Black, a lyric video for the first single, “Legions Arise”, can be viewed here – where the record can also be pre-ordered in the following formats:

– jewelcase-CD
– digipak-CD (EU exclusive)
– deluxe box set (slip-lid box, 2CD, 2LP mud-green vinyl, flag, slipmat, pin, patch – limited to 1000 copies)
– ice blue / black marbled vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 400 copies)
– purple / black marbled vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– 180g black vinyl (EU exclusive)
– light blue / red marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 700 copies)
– light olive green vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
– white / black marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
– clear / black dust vinyl (EU webshop exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– pewter gray/black marbled vinyl – Artist Exclusive (Cirith Ungol Kings Road webshop – limited to 500 copies)
* exclusive bundles with shirts and merch items, plus digital options are also available!

Cirith Ungol was formed in Ventura, California in the early 1970s, first appearing on the scene with their self-financed debut album, Frost and Fire, via their own Liquid Flame Records imprint in April 1981. It was obscure and arcane, mysterious and eccentric, epic and expansive, but most of all unfailingly, bone-crushingly heavy, dark and doom-filled.

Cirith Ungol went on to release two additional studio albums – King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell – now regarded as stone-cold classics. However, by the early 1990s, the musical climate was shifting away from traditional metal. The band was plagued with lineup instability and then came an unsatisfying studio experience during the recording of the 4th full-length album, Paradise Lost, that left them profoundly disappointed. Finally, after years of frustration took their toll, Cirith Ungol was laid to rest in May 1992.

As the years passed, the fervent clamor for Cirith Ungol’s return would not be silenced. Then, in late 2015, the sleeping giant awakened. The quartet of drummer Robert Garven, vocalist Tim Baker, and guitarists Greg Lindstrom and Jim Barraza began to knock the rust off and rediscover the magic. With Michael “Flint” Vujea unavailable to rejoin them on bass, Cirith Ungol recruited Night Demon bassist Jarvis Leatherby to fill that slot. As a seasoned musician, lifelong fan, and one of the driving forces to reanimate Cirith Ungol, Leatherby was the logical choice.

On October 8, 2016, Cirith Ungol officially returned to the stage by headlining the Frost and Fire II festival at the Majestic Ventura Theater, playing to a packed house of metal fans and friends who had converged in the band’s hometown of Ventura, California to witness the Kings of the Dead rise from the grave. In the ensuing years, Cirith Ungol have held fast to their objective to bring their music to as many fans around the world as possible, performing select high-profile festival gigs spanning North America, Europe and South America.

Now, as their resurrection enters its fifth year, the band proudly presents Forever Black: a classic Cirith Ungol album in every sense of the word. The trademark dark and foreboding riffs, pounding rhythms, and soul-searing vocal attack are instantly recognizable as the Kings of the Dead. Simply put, Forever Black is a testament to Cirith Ungol’s continuing vitality and enduring primacy in the classic metal pantheon, more than four decades after the band’s inception.

The street date of April 24th coincides with the band’s historic double-headliner appearance at the Keep It True Festival in Germany. Cirith Ungol will have an exclusive Keep It True vinyl color (red/black marble) ONLY available at those shows! See below for all upcoming dates.

Cirith Ungol tour dates:
April 24-25 – Lauda Konigshoffen, Germany – Keep It True (headlining both nights)
May 9 – Plozevet, Brittany, France – Courts of Chaos Festival (headliner)
June 6 – Leon, Mexico – Candelabrum Metal Fest (headliner)
June 20 – Baltimore, MD – Maryland Doom Fest (headliner)
June 26 – Madrid, Spain – Rock the Night Festival

EKTOMORF – Sign to Napalm

Hungarian groove/thrash metal icons EKTOMORF have officially signed with Napalm Records and Napalm Events! Two years after their latest chart breaking album, Fury, they’ve reconnected to their roots and choose to reincarnate stronger than ever before. Napalm Records is looking forward to work on a  new record with these exceptional musicians.

Over the course of the past twenty-six years and uncountable worldwide live shows, EKTOMORF have established themselves to a powerful position in the groove/thrash metal scene. Their earthshaking grooves not only perfectly match with Zoli’s rough vocals, but always come along with a critical, strong message. EKTOMORF are tearing down the walls to unite everyone with their mesmerizing, yet energetic sound!

Zoltan “Zoli” Farkas on the signing: “I am very happy and proud to be a part of the Napalm family now. This is definitely a new chapter in my carrier that reaches the next level with the combination of Napalm Records and Napalm Events. Napalm Records is the best label I can imagine to release the new EKTOMORF album and to go new ways together with us. Napalm Events is very well established by now and I can’t wait to go on a world tour again with the new album and play further countries. I am very thankful to my new manager Tom, he made this work out. We visited together the Napalm team in Berlin last week. We had very good conversations and a lot of fun. The combination of Napalm Records and Napalm Events is really unique because of the close cooperation. I am super motivated and can’t wait to start with the Napalm team. The new chapter starts now!”

Markus Jakob, Napalm Records, adds: ”We’re happy to welcome EKTOMORF to the Napalm family and work hard on both album and live activities! Zoltan for sure is one of the hardest working metal musicians out there and definitely outdid himself on the upcoming record – expect nothing but a cross-generational thrash manifesto! Here’s to a bright and heavy mutual future!”

BURNING WITCHES – ‘Dance With The Devil’ + track trailer series

With only three weeks left until the new anticipated BURNING WITCHES album Dance With The Devil hits stores, the band have released the official video for the title track. Watch and listen to ‘Dance With The Devil’ here

Dance With The Devil will be in stores on March 6th and can be pre-ordered here: nblast.de/BWDanceWithTheDevil

The new album was recorded at Little Creek Studio and produced once again by V.O. Pulver and German thrash titan Schmier. The cover artwork was created by Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák (BLIND GUARDIAN TWILIGHT ORCHESTRA, ACCEPT, POWERWOLF, STRATOVARIUS) and DESTRUCTION/GOMORRA guitarist Damir Eskic.

LAND OF A THOUSAND DRINKS UK TOUR 2020

KORPIKLAANI w/ Burning Witches

13/03/20  UK  Manchester – Rebellion
14/03/20  UK  Liverpool – O2 Academy 2
15/03/20  UK  Sheffield – Corporation
17/03/20  UK  Bristol – Thekla
18/03/20  UK  Southampton – The 1865
19/03/20  UK  Birmingham – Asylum
20/03/20  UK  Glasgow – The Classic Grand

Burning Witches have another UK date set for November 2020, at HRH Vikings in Sheffield:
28-29/11/20 UK Sheffield – HRH Vikings

GLORYHAMMER – European Galactic Terrortour

Mighty Warriors of the Galaxy! After having released their chart-breaking studio album Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terrorvortex (DE #6, CH #8, AT #16, SC #25), GLORYHAMMER continues to conquer Europe with an interstellar vortex in 2020. After just finishing the first part of the successful European Galactic Terrortour, the masters of the galaxy continue their ride through Europe with four impressive headline shows in Germany, Austria and Poland this summer with special guest Battle Beast, additional to the already announced festival appearances.

The world waits in fear and euphoria for the return of Angus McFife XIII, who fought the greatest battle the galaxy has ever heard of, against the evil sorcerer Zargothrax.

Don’t miss this epic journey and be part of GLORYHAMMER’s intergalactic ride through the universe! Catch GLORYHAMMER live on the following festivals and headline shows:

GLORYHAMMER headline shows
w/ Battle Beast
05.06.20 PL – Wroclaw / Klub Pralnia*
08.06.20 DE – Cologne / Live Music Hall
09.06.20 DE – Kaiserslautern / Kammgarn
10.06.20 AT – Wörgl / Komma
*without Battle Beast

GLORYHAMMER festival shows
07.06.20 CZ – Pilsen / Metalfest Open Air
12.06.20 CH – Interlaken / Greenfield
13.06.20 AT – Nickelsdorf / Novarock
18.06.20 IT – Natz / Alpen Flair
19.06.20 DK – Copenhagen / Copenhell
20.06.20 FI – Nummijärvi / Nummirock
10.07.20 UA – Kiev / Atlas Weekend
07.08.20 BE – Kortrijk / Alcatraz
08.08.20 NL – Leeuwarden / Into The Grave
09.08.20 UK – Derbyshire / Bloodstock Open Air
13.08.20 DE – Dinkelsbühl / Summer Breeze
15.08.20 DE – Sulingen / Reload

TORCHE – CME Sessions

Miami heavy rockers TORCHE share their Chicago Music Exchange (CME) session. The performance, recorded during their headlining Fall tour, features the title track off their new album Admission, alongside lead single “Slide”, “On the Wire” and the crushing “Infierno”. TORCHE are streaming the CME session alongside an exclusive interview with guitarist Jonathan Nuñez here.

In addition to the CME session, TORCHE have revealed a new signature Admission Tetra-Fet Pedal. The Tetra-Fet is part of the exclusive line from Nuñez Amps, the amp and pedal company founded by TORCHE guitarist Jonathan Nuñez. The guitar pedal is available now in a bundle with a limited edition autographed LP of Admission here.

TORCHE guitarist Jonathan Nuñez comments: “The Tetra-Fet Drive was an essential sonic swiss army knife on Admission! From rhythm guitar tracking, to various guitar leads and guitar solos, as well as providing a thick saturated realism on the drum tracks; the Tetra-Fet was the key in bringing out the natural sound of our instruments along with the tones and dynamics we heard in our heads.”

Nuñez Amps was “partially inspired by his quest to create a distinct guitar sound in Torche as he had on bass, Nuñez and his bandmates actually road-tested the equipment during the development phase before bringing it into the studio to record Admission. It was an ambitious undertaking, but one fitting for a band whose DIY mentality extends into doing everything from record production to album art on their own.” (Guitar.com)

TORCHE once again tour in support of their new album, Admission. Their first new album in more than 4 years, Admission “retains the sludgy ferocity of their best work while broadening their sound to include elements of shoegaze and dream pop” (Pitchfork). Upon release, Admission awarded the critically acclaimed band significant praise, hailed as “kick(ing) all kinds of ass” (Stereogum), as the band “broadened their palette into the kinds of progressions you might expect to hear on records as far afield as synth pop or classic rock, punk records or riff-driven metal bangers.” (Consequence of Sound). Admission is streaming here.

TORCHE Tour Dates:

Feb 19 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus (SOLD OUT)
Feb 21 St. Augustine, FL @ Planet Sarbez
Feb 22 Savannah, GA @ AURA Fest: Underground Weekend @ The Jinx
Feb 23 Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub

 

Mar 07 St. Petersburg, @ RU Serdce
Mar 09 Moscow, RU @ Gorod
Mar 10 Thessaloniki, GR @ Eightball Club
Mar 11 Athens, GR @ Temple

— EU Dates Mar 12 – Apr 21 w/ Russian Circles —

Mar 12 Antwerp, BE @ Trix
Mar 13 Paris, FR @ Balaclan
Mar 14 Orleans, FR @ Astrolabe
Mar 15 Nantes, FR @ Warehouse
Mar 16 Biarritz, FR @ Atabal
Mar 17 Bilbao, ES @ Shake (Torche Only)
Mar 18 Porto, PT @ Hard Club
Mar 19 Lisbon, PT @ Lisboa Ao Vivo
Mar 20 Sevilla, ES @ Sala X
Mar 21 Madrid, ES @ Copernico
Mar 23 Barcelona, ES @ LA2
Mar 24 Toulouse, FR @ Le Rex
Mar 25 Montpellier, FR @ Black Sheep (Torche Only)
Mar 26 Milan, IT @ Santeria Social Club
Mar 27 Rome, IT @ Brancaleone
Mar 28 Bologna, IT @ TPO
Mar 29 Innsbruck, AT @ PMK (Torche Only)
Mar 30 Rijeka, HR @ Pogon Kulture
Mar 31 Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert
Apr 01 Vienna, AT @ Arena
Apr 02 Prague, CZ @ Lucerna Music Bar
Apr 03 Berlin, DE @ Astra
Apr 04 Leipzig, DE @ Conne Island
Apr 05 Dresden, DE @ Ostpol (Torche Only)
Apr 06 Munich, DE @ Technikum
Apr 07 Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik
Apr 08 Prattein, CH @ Z7 (Torche Only)
Apr 09 Koln, DE @ Die Nantine
Apr 10 Hamburg, DE @ Gruenspan
Apr 11 Copenhagen, DK @ Vegas
Apr 12 Oslo, NO @ Inferno Festival (Torche Only)
Apr 13 Stockholm, SE @ Slaktkykan
Apr 14 Gothenburg, SE @ Musikenshus
Apr 16 Tilburg, NL @ Roadburn Festival

Oct 26-30 Miami, FL to Nassau, BS @ S.S. Neverender (Coheed and Cambria Cruise)