Stellar Master Elite is to me a strange band name that really don’t make any sense. I guess there is a deeper meaning behind it. Being German they are going to have to answer a lot of questions about why both master and elite are found in their name. If you kept an eye open in history class you’ll figure out why. Musically this owes much to Satyricon’s black metal (black’n’roll?). Continue reading

Enormicon – “Storm Of Swords”

“Storm Of Swords”

‘…Stoner metal, psychedelic metal, metal metal, we don’t know what to call this shit. just listen..’!! Oh fuck yeah, these Texans take off their cousins like Dead Horse in producing some new wholesome noise shit fusing High on Fire, Melvins, Celtic Frost and Prong into 6 ditties that are so unpredictable it begs a full listen of this self financed album just to appreciate what the fucks goin on! Characterized by fuzz toned geetar, and even more fuzz toned bass, funky off the wall drumming and weird trippy dual harmony vocals, songs like ‘Slaghammer’, ‘The Gargantuan’ and ‘Brotherhood Of The Plague’ will either fry your puny brain or explode it in ecstasy LOL. Thanks to brainchild (?) guitarist / vocalist Clay Davis another bile spewing monster trio has been unleashed on our poor unsuspecting planet.

Thulcandra – “Under A Frozen Sun”

“Under A Frozen Sun”
(Napalm Records)

I loved Thulcandra’s debut – it was like an icy blast back to the heady days of black & death heavily influenced by the late & great Dissection. Since then these Bavarians have been relatively quiet, carefully concocting this new album which pretty much continues the trend of skillful metallic melodies on songs like ‘In Blood And Fire’. There’s also been a gear shift upwards especially in the chopping rhythms on songs like ‘Black Flags Of Hate’ or ‘Aeon Of Darkness’ that now remind me of At The Gates – or even Kreator in the vocal dept of Steffen Kummerer – which is a tad disappointing cos I thought these guys had it pretty much hooked with their debut’s style, but hey, “Under A Frozen Sun” is still one helluva album containing those irresistible melodies that add so much style to Thulcandra.

Battlecross – “Pursuit of Honor”

“Pursuit of Honor”
(Metal Blade)

Yeah, no kidding, with a name like Battlecross I’d expect them to come from a burned out city like Detroit, but these Blue Collar Thrashers never say die! Blurring brutal precision thrash is what they play as riffs bounce and blast into you, Gumby’s vocals shred and da rhythm is what made their city famous – motor city man! There’s no doubt there’s a lotta rage and anger behind songs like ‘Man Of Stone’, ‘Breaking You’, and ‘Better Off Dead’, but Battlecross have bravely elected to soldier on with a never give attitude that comes across positively in their material and inspirational it is indeed during these hard times, and as such the band deserve many a salute.

Diamond Plate – “Generation Why?”

Diamond Plate
“Generation Why?”
(Earache Records)

Straight outta the windy city (aka Chicago) comes the latest mid west thrash export in the form of Diamond Plate! Right off the bat, what immediately jumps out is how European these guys sound, especially Jon Macak’s vocals, which could have Kreator’s throat screechmeister Mille Petrozza hopping mad LOL. Chuck in Polish emigre Konrad Kupiec on guitars (who’s a big Vader fan) and it doesn’t come as a surprise that songs like ‘Pull The Trigger’, ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’ and the epic finale of ‘Empire Tommorrow’ are high speed precision thrash that equally owe their roots to Megadeth and melodies of Priest. Despite what appears to be a basic formula, it’s no mean feat to sound original in the thrash genre, and certainly DP are far off that, but nevertheless their musicianship is highly competent for such a young band, and with a fierce burning ambition to match their music, their sights look set for conquest on both sides of the Atlantic!

Svartsot – “Maledictus Eris”

“Maledictus Eris”
(Napalm Records)

Svartsot are a jolly buncha Danes who make merry with their lighthearted brand of folk metal. I thoroughly enjoyed their last opus “Mulmets Viser” but sadly the more miserable metallers out there didn’t so on this latest album, Svartsot journey back to a 14th century Denmark ravished by the plague! Gutteral growling vocals, harsh driving rhythms amidst folk melodies either by the clean guitars or by flutes produce a strong medieval theme on songs like ‘Dødedansen’, ‘Den Forgængelige Tro’ and ‘Den Nidske Gud’ and if the cover art by Gyula Havancsák (Tyr, Grave Digger) isn’t a bit of a giveaway, they seem to be steering their ship closer to that of label mates Alestorm, who also formed around the same time. Despite that, I think that Svartsot have a lot to offer, and if “Maledictus Eris” broadens their horizons farther, then it should silence the critics.

In Cold Blood – “A Flawless Escape”

In Cold Blood
“A Flawless Escape”
(Rising Records)

WE ALL FIGHT TO KEEP HEAVY MUSIC ALIVE! So speaketh the 5 Romans making up ICB (not the Cleveland crew) who play modern metalcore featuring throat strained vocals, fast melodic metal a la The Haunted and impressive guitar warblings that threaten to take them into the extreme metal league. So impressive in fact, that the master of fretboard burning Jeff Waters of Annihilator and death metal warrior Giulio Moschini (Hour Of Penance) guests on tracks like ‘Choose A Life’, ‘Bad Wolf’ and ‘No Sun’. ICB are already on the road in continental Europe where they’ve toured with Municipal Waste, Illdisposed, All Shall Perish, and Sybreed so their quality brand of crossover is clearly making an impact just as the ancient pillaging ancestors did LOL!

Malefice – “Awaken the Tides”

“Awaken the Tides”
(Metal Blade)

F–kin’ ell, I better be careful wot I say, this lot are just down the road from me LOL! But I guess they’ve done the job for me by saying ‘… Britain is an isle that has long been steeped in heavy metal heritage but when was the last time it produced an act that showed the genuine potential to bother the biggest names in world metal?..’. Too bloody right. Step in Malefice with chopping drumming, whirring dervish guitars and brutal aggro core vocals and just way lay into you like a drunk on a Fri nite in Reading ;-)! Truth be told, from songs like ‘Baying for Blood’, ‘The Day the Sky Fell’ and ‘Flood of Red’ is that they remind me heavily of At The Gates, which is no bad thing, cos they do what they do well and have added in a touch of Lamb Of God to create just the right form of extreme metal that goes down a storm in the pit – so let’s hear it for Malefice metal for the festival!

Skálmöld – “Baldur”

(Napalm Records)

Iceland is a contrasting land of fire and ice – even today volcanoes are active and erupting – so it’s easy to understand how legends of demons and dragons have risen thru the ages. Indeed, this bold debut is a concept album based on a Viking seeking bloody retribution against a not-of-this-world demon-like creature who murders his family! Despite all this Skálmöld are a newly formed band only 2 years old although each of the band’s 6 members come from a very different musical background and had been formerly active in other bands—not all metal. And that’s manifestly clear from songs like ‘Upprisa’, ‘Draumur’ and ‘Daudi’ that feature folk, choirs, metal and deep drawling Nordic sung vocals very much like Amon Amarth. The one constant theme that runs throughout the album is how Scandinavian everything is from the lyrics to the melodies and indeed theme. Bearing in mind that Icelandic is arguably the truest form of Norse dialect should give you an idea of this deep and captivating musical experience!

Glorior Belli – “The Great Southern Darkness”

Glorior Belli
“The Great Southern Darkness”
(Metal Blade Records)

Mon dieu – dark, swamp metal not from the Bayou but the seedy streets of Paris! Although labelled by some as black metal – and indeed they are in terms of their core sound – J’s vocals are more tortured drawls than screeches, whilst H’s guitar churns out twisted dervish riffs as on ‘Per Nox Regna’, almost heading into the satanic realm of Glenn Danzig. Yeah, even the song titles like ‘They Call Me Black Devil’ lend more than an ear to Evil Elvis, but also to the NOLA scene like on the quieter twanging ‘Horns In My Path’, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the Cajun connection. All in all Glorior Belli have achieved an interesting mix without compromising these great styles and for that they deserve a look.