LETHARGIA “Divine Madness”

LETHARGIA
“Divine Madness”
(Metalscrap)
This one comes all in Russia. Can’t tell you who’s who in the band. Don’t know any song titles or lyrics. Had I not got sent the band name in English I wouldn’t even know that or the album title. But at the same time just from looking at the album I get a feeling that this is going to be black metal in the Dimmu Borgir/Cradle Of Filth school of doing things. And that can never be wrong, can it? So with that prospect ahead of me I put the fact that I can’t decipher any text aside and hope to be blown away. I wasn’t wrong in assuming this to be symphonic. Don’t know how much Cradle Of Filth there is in the music but Dimmu Borgir’s spirit lingers like a ghost over the music. Albeit a bit more controlled and perhaps not so symphonic. I also get a strong feeling of classical Russian arrangements when I listen to this. I think I’ve found a new favourite to ad to my already rather large list of really great bands discovered in 2012. Anders Ekdahl

MELIAH RAGE “Dead To The World”

MELIAH RAGE
“Dead To The World”
(Metal On Metal)
OK, this is in no way a new release but since I only discovered it recently and seeing as MELIAH RAGE is a band with a pedigree this one deserves a mention. I remember the band from the first time around. I can’t remember if the band was considered second or third wave thrash back then or if I even liked them back then but that doesn’t really matter now. All that matters is that I like this new album. This is the kind of thrash that I grew up on. This is the kind of thrash that should have been bigger than it ever was. If you missed out on MELIAH RAGE you need to correct that by buying this album and then start digging backwards into their history. This is cool stuff. Anders Ekdahl

RITI OCCULTI “S/T”

RITI OCCULTI
“S/T”
(Epedemie Records)
I haven’t come upon many bands that don’t use a guitar in their sound. The latest being GALLHAMMER on their latest album but apart from that I can only think of two acts in my record collection that has chosen to not include a guitar. This sounds like the soundtrack to Armageddon. The final battle between good and evil where nobody wins and the world goes under. This gives dark a whole new meaning. This is the kind of “weird” album that I like and that I can take to my heart in so many different ways. This is the kind of record that placed in my collection will get a strategic placing. Musically this is like a bad trip through the worst (meant in the most positive way possible) psychodelia. This is psychedelic taken to a whole new level. It may even transcend what we commonly know as music. Yet at the same time this is some of the coolest music that I’ve heard in very long time. Anders Ekdahl

SILENT LEGES INTER ARMA “S/T”

SILENT LEGES INTER ARMA
“S/T”
(Eisenwald)
I gotta say that I’m not that familiar with German black metal. We can talk about German thrash. That I know plenty about but German black metal… That one is pretty much a blank to me. SILENT LEGES INTER ARMA might help me a bit on my journey to get a fuller comprehension of what German black metal is all about. Don’t know how German this is in sound. To me this doesn’t sit too badly alongside bands like Deathspell Omega. Bands that dare to wander outside of the frame in order to create something special, something original. In doing so they too transcend what is black metal and end up with something that can’t be described using ordinary terminology. SLIA might have a bit to walk before they are there but this album shows that there is intent and with intent and determination you will come a long way. Cool stuff. Anders Ekdahl

SONS OF AEONS “S/T”

SONS OF AEONS
“S/T”
(Lifeforce)
SONS OF AEONS? Is that even possible? For an aeon to have a son. OK. I’m not the one to question the choice of band name. As long as the music is good a band name can be how strange or bad as it wants to be. I know that there are people out there that don’t think the label Lifeforce are any good at picking bands but I gotta hand it to them. The ones I’ve heard so far have all tickled my fancy in different ways. SONS OF AEON aren’t any worse than any of the other bands that I’ve heard from the LifeForce catalogue. That this made me think of Bolt Thrower didn’t make me less inclined towards it. This is cool death metal with a groove that I haven’t heard in while. This is an album I’m gonna spin a couple more time before I get tired of it. I love this kind of grooving death metal. I can listen to my Amon Amarth albums for hours on hours and not tire of them. I get the same kinda feeling from this album. Anders Ekdahl

Kiss – “The Casablanca Singles 1974 – 1992”

Kiss – “The Casablanca Singles 1974 – 1992” (Mercury / Casablanca / UMC)

I guess there are few bands in rock history that come as extravagant as Kiss. From their live show to their image to lifestyle they were virtually a household name who indelibly touched the lives of millions of teenagers who grew up in the 70s – and still continue to be a top act to this day! Back in the days of 45 rpm vinyl they released a total of 29 singles for their label, Casablanca that were in a breathtaking range of edits and mixes, some for the public while others were solely for radio airplay or promo. Many of these versions did not make it onto their albums and so became much sought after as collectors items. Well, Kiss have now tracked down and assembled all of these singles and still true to their merchandising reputation have packaged it all in a beautiful die-cut shadow box with a limited edition, etched silver metal plate and ribbon-pull magnetic closure, custom KISS 45s box with 26 collectible picture sleeves from original single releases around the world, including Japan, Germany, Holland, Spain and Britain. Also included is a booklet which tracks the genesis and chart history of each single represented in the package and four individual KISS masks! From the German version of ‘Calling Dr Love’ to the Japanese ‘Shout It Out Loud’ to the Swedish ‘Love Gun’ this is true nostalgia from the tacky memorabilia to the original mixes. Naturally released in a limited edition, this will undoubtedly be lapped up despite the price by anyone ranging from Kiss fans to collectors thus perpetuating the legend known as Kiss.

In Aevum Agere – “The Shadow Tower”

In Aevum Agere – “The Shadow Tower” (Pure Steel Records)

Awesome. Italian doom that conjures a witches brew of Angel Witch’s raw guitar work with Candlemass’s suave angelic melodies and the dark rhythms of Solitude Aeturnus – simply irresistible!!! Main man Bruno Masulli (Loadstar, Power Beyond, Savior From Anger) has definitely evoked something not of this world with songs like ‘The Last Farewell’, ‘Ire Of Solitude’ and ‘Son Of Unknown’ for they are definitive doom – in epic proportions that would make Messiah Marcolin blush and Tony Iommi shake from the classic riffs right down to the perfect sound mix. All in all an absolute gem of an album and the perfect way to finish off the year in fine epicus doomicus metallicus style!!

Ion Vein – “IV v2.0”

Ion Vein – “IV v2.0” EP (Mortal Music)

These Chi – town metallers have been going since the mid 90s when they were formed outta the ashes of Latent Fury by guitarist Chris Lotesto. Initially more of a prog / power band in the Queensryche vein, Ion Vein have been content to release tracks over time rather than albums and their style has evolved in line with the changing roster of band personnel who’ve graced their line-ups! With “IV v2.0” the band seem to have gone more for a straight forward modern heavy metal approach with the three songs ‘Seamless’, ‘Fool’s Parade’ and ‘This Is Me’ being very much in the Nevermore, Armored Saint or even Novembers Doom vein. Vocalist Scott Featherstone sounds like a more metalized version of Dio, while Lotesto’s furious, chopping riffola and fluid technical lead breaks could give Annihilator’s Jeff Waters a run for his money. Completing the Ion Vein assault are Rob Such and Chuck White on bass n drums respectively, who equally kick it to the max on this powerful EP to see us off nicely into the new year!

Malchus – “Caput Mundi”

Malchus – “Caput Mundi” (Soundmass Records)

Named after the servant who spied on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (and got his ear cut off for it lol – Ed), this Polish band play an equally dark yet progressive brand of metal! Taking from the full range of sounds from death like drawls to wailing prog vocals amidst choral harmonies, Malchus brilliantly weave them into powerful dark riffing, flowing folk melodies and technical power drumming on epic songs like ‘My Hypocrisy’, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ and ‘Stripped Of The World’. Besides the excellent mix of brutality and melody, Malchus manage to create a spiritually charged atmosphere with their material that’s hard to ignore, such is the passion in it! I can’t seem to find too much on them (that isn’t in their native Polish) which is a pity cos they are one talented band who are definitely worth checking out!

Relics Of Martyrs – “Scenes Of Blood And Betrayal”

Relics Of Martyrs – “Scenes Of Blood And Betrayal” (Noiseheadrecords)

Martyrdom, blood, betrayal…well these guys should know all about it as they come from the middle eastern country of Jordan! Made up of Armenians and Arabs, Relics Of Martyrs play old school thrash very much the vein of Sepultura during their “Beneath The Remains” era and Kreator’s “Endless Pain” days – not a bad combo at all! Amr Atieh’s versatile vocals alternate between growls to screams on songs like ‘Hidden In the Sand’, ‘Judas Between Us’ and ‘The Martyrs Journey’, all of which are scourged by that classic underground sound of distorted guitars, muffled bass and dull, thudding drums – just like it was in the 80s! Not ones to turn their backs on their roots, there are middle eastern melodies in there too, but for the most part it’s dirty hate filled thrash written by those whose people have endured genocide and oppression thru martyrdom for centuries: prepare for a real history in violence.