Texas Metal Outlaws – “Echoes of Memory”

TEXAS METAL OUTLAWS have released the official video for “Echoes of Memory,” a track from the all-star project’s self-titled debut album.The song features vocalist James Rivera (Helstar, Distant Thunder, Destiny’s End, Seven Witches, Malice, Flotsam and Jetsam, Agent Steel, Shadowkeep);  guitarist Robert Williams (Ignitor, Witches Mark); guitarist Stuart Laurence (Agony Column, Ignitor); guitarist (solo on the track) Larry Barragan (Helstar, Eternity Black, Santa Oscuridad), bassist Stony Grantham (Shadowkeep, Byfist); and drummer Cody Gilliland (Immortal Guardian).

Links to stream and pre-order TEXAS METAL OUTLAWS’ s/t debut album, which will be released October 26 on CD (Heaven and Hell Records and vinyl (Texas Metal Underground Records), are below.

Stream / CD Pre-order:
heavenandhellrecords.bandcamp.com/album/texas-metal-outlaws

Stream / Vinyl Pre-order:
tmurecords.bandcamp.com/album/texas-metal-outlaws-pre-order-12-colored-vinyl

The heat, the attitude, the METAL! Texas doesn’t do subtly and it sure as hell doesn’t do mellow, as evidenced by the forthcoming album of molten Lone Star Metal from TEXAS METAL OUTLAWS.  Each of the album’s nine tracks features a unique line-up of players from the deep well of Texas metal talent.

Watch/listen to an interview with guitarists Stuart “Batlord” Laurence and Robert Williams on Robb’s MetalWorks, San Antonio’s award-winning weekly metal television show, at the following location: youtu.be/l343s1E9A3c

Dead Ground – We All Feel The Same

Dispatching a powerful sound that is raw, moody and immersing, DEAD GROUND
endeavor to create music that holds true value built upon integrity and
honesty. The alternative trio have just released their brand new single, We
All Feel The Same

Formed in 2015 and pulled together by a mutual love for alternative and
singer/songwriter rock, this powerhouse trio have released two EPs which
adeptly showcase the band’s captivating blend of heavy rock and delicate
songwriting. Framed around Ollie Harris’ vocals, and Ed Tucker and Jake
Friese-Greene’s solid rhythm section, the threesome pave a superb pathway
for the intense and emotional outpourings of Ollie’s voice. With a fanbase
spanning the South West and with growing support from throughout the UK,
DEAD GROUND are a band that command your attention. Their recent supports
with emerging luminaries such as Black Peaks, Black Foxxes, Shame and IDLES,
as well as the strong support they’ve secured from the underground and BBC
Introducing airplay, have only aided their mounting case.

DEAD GROUND are destined to continue their climb with the release of their
next single, We All Feel The Same, which has already caught the attention of
Kerrang! Radio. Ollie Harris comments about the creation of the single: “We
wanted to display the true nature of individuality: stress,
self-consciousness, loneliness. the realisation that everyone lives a life
just as vivid and complex as the next. We knew that Middle Farm Studios
would be the perfect place to relax into this concept and bring the song to
life.” With live shows in the works, along with further singles to follow
later this year, DEAD GROUND are ready to take flight.

Mandrel Cantus – Excerpt

Internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail, who is currently on tour across Europe with Mono and A Storm of Light has shared a new track from her upcoming album ‘Exsolve’. Recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), the album will be released on 2nd November.

Commenting on the track Jo adds, ‘Mandrel Cantus is a track that’s been evolving over a long period of time, and continues to morph each  time I perform it live. I started with abstract percussion, in fact I I built a whole new armoury of sounds for this track, and these themselves helped inform the direction of the music as I continue/ed to work on it.

It’s impossible to talk about your own music without sounding pretentious… I wanted to make a pathway through the percussive labyrinth that resolves and opens powerfully in a physical sense, but dissolves to leave just the spiritual essence of the whole music with the modal C cantus at the end. I’m doing things I’ve never done before in terms of how my loop station is set up, and the sound modelling too, and as such I’m really excited every time I play this track, though it’s a potential minefield to navigate!’

Since commencing her solo career in 2010, Jo has released three albums, three EPs and a live DVD. Following her 2015 European tour with post-rock giants Caspian Jo has embedded herself in the world of left-field and heavy music, whilst continuing to perform within the contemporary and avant-garde spheres. Not only did she open for black-metal artist Myrkur but Jo joined her on stage as part of her Folkesange project as well as collaborating with the likes of A-Sun Amissa, Mono’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Eraldo Bernocchi and FM Einheit  (Einsturzende Neubauten). Jo has performed several concerts of her works arranged for electric cello, orchestral ensembles and choirs both at home in the UK, in Europe and in Australia where she tours on a yearly basis.

Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

“Exsolve’ is comprised of 3 tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is an almost symphonic quality to the album.

‘Exsolve’ is a snapshot in time of these 3 pieces and with every live performance Jo looks to develop them further. As Jo concludes, ‘For me, the final record is usually only the starting point of the journey and over time and with each performance the music will morph and be reshaped – composing and performing is a collaborative process between me, the space and the audience’.

Pre-order the album now – https://joquail.bandcamp.com

A vinyl version of the album with an additional track will follow early next year.

Jo Quail is currently on tour with Mono and A Storm of Light to support the release followed by another tour with Myrkur in December.

European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light

10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof
11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff
12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO
13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival
14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex
15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa
16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe
17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor
18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus
19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void
20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club
22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal
23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil

European tour w/ Myrkur

03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee
05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik
07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall
08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset
10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla
11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat
13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert
14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena
16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ
18 Dec UK London, The Dome
19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece
20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern
22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla

Bonfire – “Legends”

Bonfire – “Legends” 2CD (AFM Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Wow – like totally mental! I didn’t think these German hard rockers did anything really crazy…until Bonfire & Friends: A Night With Rock Legends. Clearly still fired up from their youth over the music they grew up to and were inspired by, Bonfire will be setting forth on tour this November with Phil Mogg (UFO), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Dave Bickler (Survivor), Dieter ‘Quaster’ Hertrampf (Puhdys –  the longest-serving rock band in Eastern Germany), Robin Beck, Johnny Gioeli (Axl Rudi Pell), Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger), James Christian (House Of Lords) and Paul Morris (Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow)! A long time in the minds of Bonfire’s founder guitarist Hans Ziller, the show will be a typical 80s production with catwalks, stairs, ramps and ingenious lights and pyro effects where Bonfire and these original artists perform the greatest hits in rock history! In anticipation of this extravaganza comes this monster 32 song double CD package made up of covers from the above bands – all played by Bonfire in their own style but carefully worked to preserve the integrity of the originals. Formed themselves in 1972 (!) by Ziller as a teenager, the band that went on to be renamed as Bonfire have released around 15 albums so, as you can imagine, these covers are as the band have described – perfect interpretations with the Bonfire touch of being harder and rockier in many cases, heavier with the inclusion of double bass drumming and certainly higher given Alexx Stahl’s soprano vocals. Thankfully, as the band have promised, the power of the original melodies and passion hasn’t been lost but instead, true to their childhood dreams been actually enhanced and brilliantly brought into the here and now. AOR purists may still err steadfastly to the originals, but for anyone yearning all these years for some gusto to those 80s classics, then “Legends” has it in bunches! So get ready for a crunching ‘Africa’, the flowing melodies and power screams to ‘I Surrender’, the guitar wailing ice breaking of ‘Burning Heart’, a keyboard and bass prominent ‘Doctor Doctor’, a searing ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ and the teutonic singalong of ‘Alt Wie Ein Baum’. Quite brilliant and probably cover / compilation album of the year.   

Impellitteri – “The Nature Of The Beast”

Impellitteri – “The Nature Of The Beast” (Frontiers Music) 

Battle Helm Rating

‘…my guitar sound is like a chainsaw blended with a beautiful Stradivarius violin…’. One of the world’s greatest shredders, prepare yourself for the awesome mastery of Chris Impellitteri – a man who challenges himself to conquer his human limitations! A long established virtuoso since the late 80s, Impellitteri has released 10 prior albums, and now on the aptly titled “The Nature Of The Beast” he is totally stoked and burning hell fer leather all over the 12 searing tracks here – including neo classical renditions of Black Sabbath’s ‘Symptom Of The Universe’ and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’! Joining him on this speed metal axe attack are longtime vocalist Rob Rock (Axel Rudi Pell, Avantasia, Warrior) who gives Pavarotti a run for his money and rocket drummer John Dette (Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Iced Earth) who both miraculously manage to keep up with the breathtaking speed and fret board dexterity of Impellitteri’s pick attacks, relentless riffs and blinding solos. Recorded with legendary engineer/ producer Mike Plotnikoff (Van Halen, Aerosmith, In Flames) in a grand fashion using major studios with large tracking rooms and vintage analog equipment to capture the bands live musical energy and performance, “The Nature Of The Beast” follows on from its predecessor “Venom”, which is a wise move given its popularity not in the least reflected in the band’s headline performance at the Busan Rock Festival in South Korea to 90,000 people! Despite his fearsome technical prowess, what really should be remarked about Impellitteri’s philosophy is that the songs here are precisely that, not concertos or technical speed runs, but music resplendent with catchy melodies, choruses and arrangements accessible to all listeners. On the dramatic ‘Run For Your Life’, Dette’s drums inject the matching power to Rock’s screams as Impellitteri delivers the catchy riffs and addictive melodies time and again to ensure there’s always something exciting throughout the song. The massive chorus hook as sung by Rock’s epic vocals on ‘Gates Of Hell’ is completely overpowering in its reach, almost operatic yet still very much metal and begging to be sung live when witnessing the band especially with Dette’s galloping furore and Impellitteri’s majesty backing it. Simply rippling in melody is the soulful ‘Shine On’ with its harmonious chorus led by Rock still given a literal kick from Dette who keeps hammering while Impellitteri brings in the fire of chugging riffola and ice of heart touching melodies effortlessly rolled into one another! An splendid release and utter pleasure to review – if you know the name Impellitteri, you will know what a true guitar god is.

Atreyu – “In Our Wake”

Atreyu – “In Our Wake” (Spinefarm Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

So this is what fatherhood is all about…..Having taken a hiatus a few years back to focus on their personal lives, Atreyu returned in 2015 with “Long Live”, which, along with their trademark metalcore that previously took them into the Billboard Top 10 and even garnered a gold certification from the RIAA, also manifested experimentation in the form of a rock element. Now, some 3 years later comes this 7th release, and the diversity couldn’t be greater with nu metal, hard rock and even orchestration in the form of horns and flutes being introduced. Anyone who remembers early Atreyu might be forgiven for thinking this is a different band, although the offering of ‘Nothing Will Ever Change’ might offer consolation, not withstanding its ironic title. That said, “In Our Wake” is a mighty fine album with heaps of emo and tons of melodies very typical of Atreyu and no, I don’t think the metalcore has disappeared at all, it’s just in different quantities melded with different styles across the 12 captivating and highly catchy tracks here. Driven by the prominent dual vocals of Alex Varkatzas’s aggressive screaming and Brandon Saller’s melodic singing along with plenty of harmonies from the rest of the band, the emo aspect is bolstered even further by the fluid guitars of Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, relentlessly trading off one another and unison in a blinding array of aggressive hardcore riffs, anthemic grooves, rock leads, metallic breaks and of course, absolutely tons of melodies. Roaring out with plenty of heart on the title track ‘In Our Wake’ the multiple emo vocals and Saller’s powering drums inject you with so much energy and uplift even before the aggression hits, continuing even more intensely on the emo core of ‘The Time Is Now’ with its heart grabbing harmonies. But it’s when you get into the album to the likes of ‘Safety Pin’ that you appreciate the new blended style of electronica and orchestrals has been melded beautifully into the emo core – along with a stand out pure rock solo – that will have you in bliss and utter euphoria! Continuing the high energy even with the tempo slowed is ‘Paper Castle’ with its multiple harmonies mixed with shout outs, powerful dirty riffing and pumping grooves guaranteed to rock out any stadium. It’s been said that “In Our Wake” is the album that the band want people to remember them by, and if you check out ‘Super Hero’, an anthem that blends 70s classic rock orchestrals with nothing short of addictive emo core especially in those tear jerky harmonies, and featuring M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) & Aaron Gillespie (Underoath), you’ll know just what Atreyu mean. Now that’s gotta be something you’d wanna proudly play to your kids and brings the neverending story of this amazing band full circle.

Earthless – “From The West”

Earthless – “From The West” (Nuclear Blast Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Hey man, prepare for cosmic jams from San Diego! But before you pass the bong though, better take note that the trio of Earthless may well be psychedelic rockers, but don’t be expecting some laid back, space rock trip to chill out to! While there’s certainly plenty of far our moments to the music of Earthless, this ain’t no mellow affair. Taking as much inspiration from Captain Beyond and even Kraut Rock, there’s also plenty of stoking from the likes of Geezer Butler, Lemmy, John Bonham and Keith Moon delivering plenty of intensity alongside bunches of insanity! Historically an instrumental band, this year’s “Black Heaven” album saw a shift with four of its six songs featuring vocals whereas earlier releases only occasionally had singing. But on “From The West” you get the best of both styles. Recorded in San Francisco on the eve of the release of “Black Heaven”, this live album features 7 electric tracks with a racing energy level that doesn’t let up from start to finish! Frankly how the trio maintain their tightness through the delivery of these monster jams – including the titanic 20 minute ‘Uluru Rock’ – is beyond me but to the eternal credit of the talents of Isaiah Mitchell’s guitar and vocals, Mike Eginton’s bass and Mario Rubalcaba’s drums. Earthless has it all from pulsating fuzz and wah mayhem to smog heavy bass and trippy vocals alongside frantic drumming. But like I said, this isn’t a galactic walk in the park but forged instead by the guitar legends of the 70s, when axe duels, drawn out solos and monumental jams were the thang – just check out Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Outlaws and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Then when you add in the massive hooks and ultra catchy stoner grooves all delivered through high volume drive, what you’ll get is one of the world’s top power trios – I mean, just hear these guys crush Zepp’s ‘Communication Breakdown’! “From The West” is a testimony to massive horsepower, in this case the band’s own and for that I have no hesitation in ranking this live album of the year…..so far.

Skálmöld – “Sorgir”

Skálmöld – “Sorgir” (Napalm Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

After the warmth and fuzziness of 2016’s “Vögguvísur Yggdrasils”, viking folk metallers Skálmöld return with something far more cold and morbid in “Sorgir”, literally meaning ‘sorrow’. Formed just under a decade ago in Iceland, Skálmöld have never been ones to rush, preferring to take things in their stride like the rest of their island nation. Balancing the band with full time jobs, writing for this 5th album commenced pretty much after its predecessor, not withstanding the 4 shows they did with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, making a total of 7 if counting the 3 they did five years ago Reykjavik. Totalling some 8 songs, “Sorgir” is conceptually split into two parts, with the first half telling tales of poor mortals facing sorrow, pain and death and being totally Icelandic, the second half telling the same tales from these poor souls, albeit now being ghosts – like, totally morbid!!! Using a multiple vocal attack employing hoarse warrior vocals, pagan screaming, clean traditional singing and nordic choir backing, Skálmöld’s cultural embodiment in their material is reflected in their music, liberally featuring powerful nordic power riffs and equally, beautiful folk melodies along with more conventional metal including double bass drumming, keyboards and even an oboe! Needless to say, the music is rich and bountiful, abundant with plenty of catchiness and aggression, yet also omnipresent with heart stirring passion as amply reflected in the deep songs here. ‘Sverdid’ is typical of the style, commencing with a rolling nordic groove along with ethereal choirs before Björgvin Sigurðsson’s hard vocals herald a slowly building darkness amid some lovely interweaving guitar melodies before the double bass drumming comes in alongside some tortured screaming before returning to its original flow, albeit on a slightly faster tempo. ‘Brunin’ is anything but that, instead a viking hard rocking piece awash with addictive power grooves and gruff vocals, plenty of power riffs, fast wailing solos, and all driven by smashing drum work! Reflected by its opposite ‘Móri’, opening atmospherically, the song builds with ultra catchy cold metallic guitars, contrasted by hard and harmony vocals before the arrival of ethereal female wailings courtesy of drummer Jón Geir Jóhannsson’s mother in law (!) and a blast beating passage with screams that I really hope didn’t come from the other guest – Óttarr Proppé, former minister of health and a singer of HAM, who played Eurovision!!! Closing with the 8 minute ‘Mara’, it’s more of an upbeat nordic rock beat with traditional riffs but also featuring Skálmöld’s first use of the acoustic guitar that heralds a flowing nordic folk groove completed by a beautiful solo from Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson before thundering off to Valhalla in a nordic melodic maelstrom – brilliant! Like their contrasting land of fire and ice, Skálmöld serve it up lushly whether in darkness or light, and “Sorgir” no less touched.

Gama Bomb – “Speed Between The Lines”

Gama Bomb – “Speed Between The Lines” (AFM Records) 

Battle Helm Rating

Well, judging by the sheer number of falsetto screams on this 6th album from these Irish thrashers – vocalist Philly Byrne is well and truly back with a vengeance! After suffering a vocal injury while on tour in 2012,  Byrne underwent surgery and years of rehabilitation – but now, after intensive training under one of London’s best opera coaches, Byrne’s vocals have returned to their shrieking best and it’s pretty clear from the hungry performances on “Speed Between The Lines”. Matching any of the 80s thrash bands in speed, what sets these nice Irish lads apart from their aggressive and hateful peers is their take on the world, jovial at times although not always, covering issues such as global warming and racism. However, when it comes to music, it looks like their studiousness is second to none with amazing rhyming lyrics and most of all, ultra catchy songs that clearly evidence the best in choice riffs, electric thrash beats and superb arrangements. I guarantee anyone – thrasher or not – to resist the lure of these massive hooks, catchy melodies, superb arrangements and Byrne’s own quirky vocals as they deliver consistently across the 12 excellent tracks here. Blasting out on opener ‘Give Me Leather’, Byrne clearly wants to impress Halford (along with Justin Hawkins) with his crescendo wailing while the fast skating guitars of Domo Dixon and John Roche race in reckless abandon through furious riffola while machine gunning catchy licks and neck ripping solos all to a hugely catchy singalong chorus. Even more intense is ‘666teen’ telling the story of just about every headbanger through viciously catchy rhyming lyrics, Paul Caffrey’s relentless drum rolls and even more blistering guitar from Domo and Roche – awesome!!! If you’re not splitting your sweaty sides by now, then prepare for the ultimate man tribute in the hilarious ‘Kurt Russell’ with its chopping brutality courtesy of co founder Joe McGuigan’s twanging bass along with immortal lines like ‘…you’ll be Tango, I’ll be Cash, drinking cider, smoking hash…’ – simply unmissable ha ha! If you buy only 1 thrash album this year, make it this one.

OPETH – LIVE AT RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE

Swedish progressive metal legends OPETH are set to release Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater on 2nd November via Moderbolaget Records / Nuclear Blast. This historic show in the band’s career was captured for the DVD, Blu-Ray and vinyl formats during their set on 11th May 2017 at the world renowned Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO.

Video footage for Garden of the Titans was overseen by The Deka Brothers (Carpenter Brut, The Prodigy) and audio was mixed by David Castillo (Bloodbath, Katatonia).  All versions of the release feature the masterful artwork of revered artist Travis Smith.

Fans can now check out and pre-order the various formats (including numerous limited edition coloured vinyl options) below:
All formats: nuclearblast.com/opeth-gardenofthetitans
Limited Edition Gatefold Double Transparent Blue or Red Vinyl, Limited Edition Gatefold Double Orange (UK exclusive), White or Metallic Sand Vinyl and exlcusive merch: nblast.de/OpethNBShop
Earbook: nblast.de/OpethEarbook
Blu-Ray + 2 CD: nblast.de/OpethBluRay
DVD + 2 CD: nblast.de/OpethDVD
Black Vinyl: nblast.de/OpethBlkVinyl
Digital album: nblast.de/OpethGardenTitansIT

Ahead of the album, OPETH will release the limited 10” vinyl ‘Ghost Of Perdition (Live)’ on October 19th. Side A contains the haunting live version of the band’s classic ‘Ghost Of Perdition (live)’, while the previously released ‘Sorceress (live)’ can be found on Side B. The release is available in the following formats:
10″ pink sparkle in sleeve (limited to 700): nblast.de/OpethNBShop
10″ violet sparkle in sleeve (NB mailorder exclusive, limited to 300): nblast.de/OpethNBShop

Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater track listing:
01. Sorceress (live)
02. Ghost Of Perdition (live)
03. Demon Of The Fall (live)
04. The Wilde Flowers (live)
05. In My Time Of Need (live)
06. The Devil’s Orchard (live)
07. Cusp Of Eternity (live)
08. Heir Apparent (live)
09. Era (live)
10. Deliverance (live)

Always an unstoppable force for uniqueness amid a sea of generic swill, OPETH has been setting the rule book ablaze, and ploughing a uniquely progressive and exploratory furrow for over 25 years now.  Neither conforming, nor exhibiting any desire to be restricted to a single genre, OPETH quite simply, has a time honoured tradition of blowing our minds with both class and forward thinking.  All these years later, nothing and everything has changed once again with their most recent album, Sorceress.

Sorceress is the band’s first effort for Nuclear Blast via OPETH’s imprint label Moderbolaget Recordsand was released in September 2016.  For the recording, the group returned to the legendary Rockfield Studios in South Wales – also the birthplace of pivotal releases from Queen, Rush and Judas Priest – where the Swedes had tracked Pale Communion in 2014 with Tom Dalgety.