“Neutron Breed”
(Everlasting Spew Records)

Battle Helm Rating

This is the debut EP from Italian blackened death metal troupe QUANTUM HIERACHY. I love all the stuff that Incantation has done, and I love early Morbid Angel. This is like a marriage between those two. This is what is so good about music; how you can merge different influences and come up with something new. Not the most original but still something that has never been heard before. If you like me like the before mentioned bands you really ought to check this out too as I am sure that you will like this. Anders Ekdahl

RAIN OR SHINE “Seize The Night”

“Seize The Night”
(Lions Pride Music)

Battle Helm Rating

I find it strange that I am not a bigger fan of melodic hardrock than I am as I quite like it once it does come my way. And now that I have become older I can even appreciate all the bands that I did not like in the 80s and 90s. As I listen to this debut by Greek RAIN OR SHINE I find myself wanting to this to be more of everything. It feels a bit too polished. But I guess some of my hesitance is down to me not being exposed enough to this kind of music. And therefore don’t have too many band to refer to. There is a positive energy to this that I like. It is music that makes me happy listening to it. Anders Ekdahl

RAVEN “Wiped Out”

“Wiped Out”

Battle Helm Rating

This might not have been a 5 star record when it was released in 1982 but it has over the years proven to be an important album, both for NWOBHM but also for the speed metal genre. I don’t remember much from the past but I do remember the first time I heard this album and how blown away I was with the opening track “Faster Than The Speed Of Light”. I cannot remember if I heard Jaguar’s debut before this or after but boy; this was some of the fastest metal I had heard by a stretch. This was, alongside Venom, my introduction into extreme metal. Something that has been with me for the last 36 years. And to this day this is one hell of an album. RAVEN’s first three albums are all classics that every fan of heavy metal should own in one format or the other. Anders Ekdahl

ROAMER “What The Hell”

“What The Hell”
(Czar Of Revelations)

Battle Helm Rating

When I saw this one in my review list for this week I couldn’t for the life of me remember ever having received it. But as I looked into it I realized where it came from. And then my interest in it was awoken. When the press release mentioned both Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots I got even more intrigued. I was not the greatest STP fan but I have tried to follow Nine Inch Nails. This is what I would describe as post rock. The band takes in influences from various sources and turn it into its own sound. In a way they reminds me of the Swedish band Bob Hund and their awkward take on how to do things. ROAMER might not follow the traditional norm but they sure know how to get things done. Anders Ekdahl

SPITEFUL “Dreamworld Collapse”

“Dreamworld Collapse”
I gotta say that when I saw who were releasing this album I had to look both twice and thrice. To me MDD is more about extreme metal and not so much about heavy metal bit I guess labels today have to diversify. SPITEFUEL is a band that I have not checked out before, even though they have both albums and singles under their belt. This German band play a sort of classic German heavy metal. I don’t know how to really describe it but when you hear it you’ll know what I mean. In a way this reminds me of a cross between Edguy and Helloween. This might not have been the stuff I associate with MDD but it turned out positive in the end. This is a cool heavy metal album. Anders Ekdahl

TOMORROW’S EVE “Mirror Of Creation III – Projekt Ikaro”

“Mirror Of Creation III – Projekt Ikaro”
(Dr Music Records)

Battle Helm Rating

This is TOMORROW’s EVE’s fifth album but the third with the “Mirror Of Creation” in it title. I have. I have missed out on all albums by this German progressive metal band. Until now that is. This is one of these album that I have no real relation to. As much as I like progressive metal as little do I get to hear it to be up to date on the bands. I am pretty much stuck with Dream Theater. But this has all the things that I associate with progressive metal; the technical side, the twists and turns and some really strong song writing. Add to that a rather aggressive edge and you get an album that moves not only heads but also mountains. Anders Ekdahl

WORMLIGHT “Wrath of the Wilds”

“Wrath of the Wilds”
(Black Lions Records)

Battle Helm Rating

WORMLIGHT is a Swedish black metal band that has that 90s vibe going on. Hailing from Umeå in the north of Sweden they have a lot to live up to. With bands like Throne Of Ahaz, Ancient Wisdom, Bewitched there is some pedigree to uphold. And from what I hear on this album they do their darndest to do just that. This is black metal of the highest standard. That cool 90s vibe is there. Add to that some more modern black metal vibes and you got an album that totally rocks. Anders Ekdahl

Anthrax – “Kings Of Scotland”

Anthrax – “Kings Of Scotland” CD/DVD (Nuclear Blast) 

Battle Helm Rating

35 years on, selling in excess of 10 million units, receivers of multiple Gold and Platinum awards, 6 Grammy nominations and one of thrash metal’s ‘big 4’, Anthrax have returned to the album that broke them big – “Among The Living”. Recorded in 1987 and dedicated to the memory of Cliff Burton, it produced hits like ‘I Am The Law’ (based on 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd) and ‘Indians’ (in acknowledgement to vocalist Joey Belladona’s part Iroquois heritage) as well as defining what would become the band’s signature sound, along with introducing humour, movies and comics into an image that was a rarity back in the day. Now in 2017, Anthrax have returned with 17 cameras to capture the intensity of playing this famous album in its entirety across 18 songs totally a monumental set of 2 hours! Gamefully choosing Glasgow’s Barrowlands, they couldn’t have found a better crowd to match the band in rabid intensity, roaring along with hearty singalongs and ceaseless cheering, driving the band’s own energy on classics like ‘A.I.R’, ‘Medusa’, ‘Among The Living’, ‘I Am The Law’ – and finally delivering the killer blow in ‘Antisocial’. Now with Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais, the classic line up of Benante, Ian, Bello and Belladona remains as timeless as when I saw them back in the day, still with plenty of banter, attitude but most of all, heart in powering through such a colossal set with such a perfect performance that the title of this live album is indeed richly deserved! If you want to know what the glory of thrash metal was about back in the day – and just an amazing live release – then “Kings Of Scotland” has it stamped all over. Nise fukin life!!!

Riot V – “Armor Of Light”

Riot V – “Armor Of Light” (Nuclear Blast) 

Battle Helm Rating

One of America’s legendary heavy / power metal bands, its spirit continues even after the passing of founder guitarist Mark Reale. Formed as early as 1975 by Reale in New York City, Riot’s history is a roller coaster of success, tragedy and obscurity along with a revolving door of members although always defined in whatever form by Reale, who remained at the helm until passing from Crohn’s disease in 2012. With albums like “Rock City” establishing the band as a cult act in Japan, it was “Thundersteel” released in 1988 that really brought Riot to the attention of many with its searing music, blending incredible power with equal amounts of melodic passion, both being driven through powering guitars and soaring soulful vocals. With Reale’s passing, at the behest of his father, Riot changed its name to Riot V and continued his legacy. With “Thundersteel” bassist Don Van Stavern in its ranks, “Armor Of Light”  is the band’s 16th studio album and what can I say, it’s an incredible follow up to “Thundersteel” so if you loved that album like I do, then you’ll revel in this one too! While Riot struggled and soldiered on bravely through varying labels and production qualities, it’s pretty clear that Nuclear Blast have spared no expense on this release and it is a huge commendation to give Reale the justice that alluded him for this truly inspirational music. Even the artwork is old school, a cool blend between the covers of “Narita” and “Thundersteel”! As such, “Armor Of Light” is everything that longtime Riot fans could dream of, and even more so given the incredible songs and matching musicianship, the latter in no small part due to the blinding guitar work of Mike Flyntz and his former student protege Nick Lee. Blurring in with fast, intricate fret board work on ‘Messiah’ backed by double bass drumming and not forgetting Todd Michael Hall’s soaring heartfelt vocals, the energy is incredible as is the overwhelming passion of the music and of course, those unbelievable guitar solos that duel, match and trade off one another in classic Riot style as pioneered by Reale himself. On ‘Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign’ the pace slows down a tad into chugging riffola and the brilliance of the melodies shines through to your heart as Hall passionately screams ‘….heavy metal runs through my veins!!!..’ – amazing. Closing off aggressively with ‘Raining Fire’ its more double bass drumming from Frank Gilchriest and the heavy, twanging bass of Van Stavern, but soon joined by those twin shining guitars bringing their luminescence to once again dazzle and awe to a jaw dropping ending. Definitely one of my albums of the year so far!

Varathron – “Patriarchs Of Evil”

Varathron – “Patriarchs Of Evil” (Agonia Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Along with Rotting Christ and Necromantia, Varathron form the cornerstone of Greek black metal which was no easy feat considering the country’s deeply religious convictions as well as a national policy of compulsory military service! Formed back in 1988, I won’t even consider to imagine the number of people that have played in any of these bands, who frequently traded members between themselves to cover the shortfalls in personnel, but with the sheer amount of experience gained as a result of this, there are some truly stellar Greek musicians out there. True to this is the current line of Varathron, still featuring founder vocalist  Stefan Necroabyssious, and joining him since 2004, Achilleas C (Aenaon, ex-Chaotic Symmetry) on guitars and Haris (No Hand Path, Utmost Contempt, ex-Revolting Breed, ex-Morpheus) on drums, with the more recent members being Sotiris (No Hand Path, ex-Rovolting Breed) also on guitars and Stratos Kountouras (Luna Obscura, One of Discord, ex-Vert) on bass! Together, they have been releasing albums steadily over the years with “Patriarchs Of Evil” being the band’s 6th release (not counting their huge number of EPs, split and compilations!). Anyone new to Greek black metal will find that while common aspects of devilry certainly pervade the music including the use of blast beats, the Greek style draws from its own deep mythology along with a rich use of epic and dark melodies, all of which add up to hugely atmospheric releases. “Patriarchs Of Evil” is such an album, rooted in the 90s and devoid of compromise or desire at selling out to modernity, which is just what I want to hear given Varathron’s rich legacy! The 8 tracks here are masterful compositions reflective of the thoughtful attention to detail in invoking such atmosphere, and the talented performances which also incorporate keyboards, pagan folk and heavy metal allow the band to achieve this on this impressive release. Necroabyssious in particular puts on a stellar performance with plenty of creepy passion and haunting emotion in his vocals, backed by the very skilful guitars that exude occult mysticism along with strong epic power like on the 8 minute ‘Ouroboros Dweller (The Dweller of Barathrum)’, completed by heaps of ghostly vocal harmonies. Elsewhere on ‘Luciferian Mystical Awakening’ there’s plenty of dark, pagan passion with the guitars delivering some catchy folk melodies as Necroabyssious’s dry drawls complements the charged atmosphere magnificently, be it in dark ambience or as the fiery furore sets the song ablaze! Blending mid paced blast beating, rich melodies clang and resonate before more pagan epic power comes in on ‘ Saturnian Sect’ as the twin guitars riff away while Necroabyssious sits atop his throne of blood, chanting and offering spoken word as the high priest of his band, urging the listener to follow on his dark quest – and after such a stellar performance, how could you refuse. I mean, “Patriarchs Of Evil” is testimony that one of Greece’s titans is still very much alive and wild!