Psychedelic organ notes, repeating riff and aggressive vocals, this album is the return of the witch finders, the religious fanatics preaching their so-called wisdom to anyone that cares to listen. This is only the second release from the Liverpool 5-piece, following on from the album Nature is the Devil’s Church released last year and proof that this band have a lot more to offer.
Arcturus, Fen and From the Bogs of Aughiska @ the O2 Islington
The question of best raises a few issues… the choice between best sound, most energy and sheer entertainment really is a hard one to make. This gig had everything though, the awesome droning power of Bogs of Aughiska, Fen bring soaring doom in crystal clear precision and finally Arcturus. It’s hard to know what to make of this band.
The only way to describe it is drunken operatic ramblings, not entirely in tune at the beginning but always keeping us thoroughly entertained. ICS Vortex may not have been surrounded by his usual troupe of dancing creatures, but his perfected wiggle dance was enough to make up for the absence. This is performance at its very best.
Drunken, lively and completely insane.
Best local band
Having moved back to the shire, I thought there’d be nothing here but old man pubs and folk bands. I could not have been more wrong. Supporting a wealth of local metal acts, Kent can boast some serious strong talent rising up in the metal scene. One of those acts is death metal 5-piece NeonHalo. Having reformed after a long break with their strongest lineup yet and winning a spot this year at Bloodstocks the Metal to the Masses, this band is taking the metal scene by storm. Why? because it’s pure gore to the fucking core.
They may have formed in 2011, but with their first release this year you can’t get too much more recent. Nightslug are a band on the edge of every genre, scraping the edges of sludge, doom, noise and punk. This band is a mix of all the dirtiest genres of the music out there, and the result is an album of pure and utter sonic filth.
There’s one thing about arguing with people on the internet and that’s the wealth of bands you can discover from all corners of the earth. One of those for me this year was Liturgy, a post-rock/black metal band from America. While black metal is usually crushingly aggressive and depressing, Liturgy show that the genre really is so much more versatile.
Major events in the Metal world
The sad and sudden loss of Jeff Hanemann.
Avant-garde black metal band Altar of Plagues disbanding.
Predictions for 2014
Dave Mustaine will run for presidency before finally realizing no one cares about his political agenda.
4. Voices: From the Human Forest Create A Fuge Of Imaginary Rain
5. Fyrdsman: Omen I the Sky
6. Universe 217: Never
7. Saille: Ritu
8. Merkstave: Self Titled
9. Shade Empire: Omega Arcane
10. Inter Arma: Sly Burial
11. Dream Theater: Self Titled
12. Deals Death: Point Zero Solution
13. Progenie Terreste Pura: UMA
14. Lamia Culta: Woman Scarred
15. Locrian: Return To Annihilation
16. Cult of Erinyes: Blessed Extinction
17. Caladan Brood: Echoes of Battle
18. Orphand Land: All Is One
19. Vallendusk: Black Clouds Gathering
20. Veldes: To Drown In Bleeding Hope
2. Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
3. Havok – Unnatural Selection
4. TesseracT – Altered State
5. Gama Bomb – The Terror Tapes
6. Vista Chino – Peace
7. Horisont – Time Warriors
8. Kvelertak – Meir
9. Hybris – Heavy Machinery
10. Motorhead – Aftershock
11. Red Fang – Whales And Leeches
12. Black Spiders – This Savage Land
13. Enforcer – Death By Fire
14. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
Top Rock Albums
1. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
2. The Temperance Movement – The Temperance Movement
3. Monster Truck – Furiosity
4. Clutch – Earth Rocker
5. Rob Zombie – Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
5. Karnivool – Asymmetry
Thanks to Khalil Turk at Escape Music and to Escape Music for the promo pictures of the band. Promo pictures of the band taken by: Johan Ylitalo Live promo pictures taken by: Christoffer Olsson, Maja Larsson andJohan Ylitalo
From the very north of Sweden comes the melodic hard rock act Coldspell. The band recently released its third album titled FROZEN PARADISE and I hooked up with bandleader/guitarist Michael Larsson in order to have a chat about the new album. Besides the album, we also spoke about the bands past present and future and what lies ahead for the band in 2014. For some reason haven’t I heard the band before but when I heard the excellent FROZEN PARADISE it was a must for me to check out the band and their brilliant melodic hardrock music. Enjoy.
INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA AND ARTO LEHTINEN
LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
The legendary Carcass returned with a vengeance! Their new album SURGICAL STEEL is an amazing piece of evidence showing how the band has remained stainless and sharp. The album has literally blown both new and old fans easily away. Carcass embarked on their European tour with Swedish viking metallers Amon Amarth and British occult metallers Hell. They arrived to Helsinki to play a sold out show for the Finnish metal freaks. Before the show, Metal-Rules.com talked to Bill Steer about touring, Carcass re-union time, past times, and of course the new album. Read the rest of this entry »
I never thought it would happen again, a Black Sabbath album with Ozzy at the helm. Hell, even more surprising, I never thought it would be this good! The album has a SABOTAGE feel and would have fit nicely in between SABOTAGE and TECHNICAL ECSTASY in the mid 70’s. It’s the album I didn’t know I had been waiting for, I teared up the first time I heard the whole thing!
2. Carcass – Surgical Steel
Carcass – SURGICAL STEEL
I’m not a fan of how Carcass changed to “melodic death metal” so I am very happy that the first Carcass album in 17 years has some brutality and some Bill Steer backing vocals! Amazing musicianship, the album is a blend of NECROTICISM and HEARTWORK with shredding and melodic parts, and we’re also back to the medical dictionary lyrics!
3. Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam
Best Suffocation album since PIERCED FROM WITHIN. PINNACLE is their most technical and musically varied album and it still measures on the Richter Scale of brutality!
4. Hail of Bullets – III The Rommel Chronicles
Every 2 or 3 years this Dutch Death Metal supergroup cranks out another WWII themed masterpiece! Want a little history lesson with your brutal old school death metal? Than this is for you!
5. Broken Hope – Omen of Disease
After an 11 year hiatus and the untimely passing of vocalist Joe Ptacek, Chicago’s Broken Hope reformed in 2012. OMEN OF DISEASE, their first album since 1999, is an incredible sick blend of guttural vocals, savage riffs, and bludgeoning drums and bass. It’s the heaviest album of the year! Welcome back Broken Hope, the underground is richer because of your return!
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more brutal…
Recently, Bay Area thrash legends EXODUS announced that they will perform at the very first FEAR FestEvil, taking place on February 7 at Regency Ballroom (located at 1300 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108).
Today, new information has surfaced – FEAR FestEvil creator and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has announced that he will not only perform at the festival himself, but will also take part in a special encore performance with a blast from his past – that’s right, EXODUS! This is a can’t-miss event!
Guitarist Gary Holt adds, “EXODUS is stoked as fuck to announce that none other than Kirk Von Hammett himself will be jamming with us during our encore at FEAR FestEvil! What song? Hmm, that remains to be seen! I guess you will have to be there to find out!
When it comes to thrash metal, in particular Bay Area thrash, EXODUS are one
of the true Godfathers. Formed in 1980 by guitarist Tim Agnello, drummer Tom
Hunting, bassist Carlton Melson and some other six-stringer called Kirk
Hammett, Agnello soon left, allowing Hammett’s guitar tech Gary Holt to step
up and in. Hammett then stumbled across Paul Baloff, a demo was recorded,
Hammett left to join some other upstarts, Rick Hunolt took the other guitar
and the rest became history. Their 1984 debut Bonded By Blood is a stonewall
genre classic, and with cranium crunching classics such as ‘”A Lesson In
Violence”, “Strike Of The Beast” and more.
EXODUS can promise that this show will not be a calm or gentle soiree… more than an aural beatdown.
The current line-up of Gary Holt on guitar, Lee Altus on guitar, Tom Hunting, on drums Jack Gibson on bass and Rob Dukes on vocals has been in place since 2005. EXODUS’ last album was 2010’s Exhibit B: The Human Condition on Nuclear Blast Records, and the band have just started working on new material for a prospective release later in 2014.
A video teaser with behind the scenes and studio footage for the forthcoming, yet untitled full-length debut album from doomy heavy metallers EXORCISM, featuring the song ‘ZERO G‘ that appears on the CD, can be seen below. http://youtu.be/e0Y15GUFYxY
EXORCISM, who feature in their ranks guitarist Joe “Shredlord” Stump (RAVEN LORD, ZVEKAN, HOLYHELL), will release their debut album in spring 2014 via GoldenCore Records/ZYX Music.
Swedish riff lords GRAND MAGUS, have posted the third in a series of track-by-track videos describing the creative process that went into making their upcoming album Triumph and Power, here: http://youtu.be/m-aM7RgVvrc.
Fans can also check out the title-track to their new album with an accompanying lyric video here: http://goo.gl/DEm9yq . The track comes from their upcoming seventh studio album Triumph and Power, which is set to be released on January 31 (Europe), February 3 (UK) and February 4, 2014 (N. America) via Nuclear Blast.
Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro has been wowing rock fans with his fleet fingered fretwork, and his talents are showcased front and center on the recently-released DVD, ‘The White Balance.’ Featuring special guest performers, including Virgil Donati (Planet X, Allan Holdsworth) on drums, the DVD was filmed on June 14, 2013 at the Auditorio Ibirapuera, in São Paulo, Brazil, and
incorporates all three phases of Kiko’s preferred styles – metal, progressive and Brazilian fusion music.
Death Dealer are a metal supergroup in the purest sense of the term. Featuring an all-star lineup of metal greats “War Master” ultimately lived up to the enormous expectations and hype surrounding the release of their debut album by delivering ten scorching tracks of true blue American steel. (Although they do feature one Aussie in their ranks) As a longtime Manowar fan it was also great to finally hear what it would be like if Ross “The Boss” Friedman and Rhino were in a band together. (Rhino departed from Death Dealer shortly after the release of “War Master”) Here’s hoping that Death Dealer can do some extensive touring in 2014, these ten tracks really deserve to be performed live!
2. Attacker “Giants Of Canaan”
Attacker “Giants Of Canaan”
This album was an early favorite for potential album of the year status and came so very close to securing that coveted spot. Attacker are seasoned metal veterans and should still hold their heads high for delivering an exceptionally strong album like “Giants of Canaan”. This was one of my “go-to” albums of the year for partying with friends, cruising around in my car, sitting around with my dog etc. You can’t go wrong with Attacker’s “Giants of Canaan”. I highly recommend it.
3. Toby Knapp “Static Warfare”
Toby Knapp “Static Warfare”
Toby Knapp is back and arguably better than ever. Released in July of 2013 “Static Warfare” ushered in the latest batch of melodic shredding insanity from the former Onward mastermind. It’s not often that an all instrumental album can captivate my attention for more than a few spins but Toby kept things fresh with his unique blend of influences and song structures. Does Toby ever sleep? Who knows? Word on the street is he’s put together a new band dubbed “Where Evil Follows” with Steel Prophet vocalist Rick Mythiasin as well as an instrumental collaboration with Markus Johannson. Sounds like 2014 could be “The Year Of The Knapp”.
4. Saxon “Sacrifice”
5. Yngwie Malmsteen – “Spellbound”
6. Kantation “Kantation”
7. Infernaeon “The Cancer Within”
8. Nomad Son “The Darkening”
9. Satan “Life Sentence”
10. Helloween “Straight Out Of Hell”
11. Stonegriff “Prologus Magicus”
12. Queensryche “Queensryche”
13. Seven Witches “Rebirth”
14. Black Sabbath “13”
15. Exhumed “Necrocracy”
16. Watain “The Wild Hunt”
17. Annihilator “Feast”
18. Voivod “Target Earth”
19. Immortal Guardian “Super Metal Volume: Z”
20. White Wizzard “The Devil’s Cut”
Best Live Album
Skelator “Live Chaos”
I can’t get enough Skelator. These guys are one of the best things happening in American heavy metal right now. Italy’s Metal On Metal Records knows this and that is why they released “Live Chaos” in a very small pressing on cassette. Good luck finding “Live Chaos” but if you are lucky enough to you will be rewarded with a stellar live set by one of the heaviest hitters in today’s underground scene.
Best Covers Album
Ignitor “Mix Tape ’85”
Austin, Texas’ hometown boys (and one gal) self-released “Mix Tape ’85” this past March featuring covers of Neil Turbin fronted Anthrax, Accept, Exciter, Judas Priest, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Exodus and Deep Purple. An enjoyable stop-gap release from a killer band and a perfect album to spin when you’re throwing back beers with your buds.
Ancient Dreams “MMXIII” – I’d never heard this band from Illinois before but I came across it through the trading circuit and with catchy hooks like on the instantly memorable “Andrea’s Dream” and the crushing doom metal stomp of “To Walk The Earth” I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing more from Ancient Dreams in the future.
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – RELENTLESS THE MEMOIR!
Yngwie Malmsteen “Relentless” – This is a captivating look into the origins of the undisputed king of the six string and the founding father of neo-classical heavy metal, as told by the man himself. It’s all here, from his early upbringing in the frostlands of Sweden to his arrival and subsequent takeover of the U.S. shred scene. Tour stories, anecdotes about working with different lineups and everything in between. This is the book that Yngwie fans have been waiting for all of these years. Highly recommended.
Raven “Rock Until You Drop”
This was a pretty cool documentary styled feature from Raven (And it’s about time their story was told) Jam packed with on camera interviews with the band and their peers, archival concert footage and tons of bonus material, this DVD offers a ton of bang for it’s buck.
Iron Maiden/Megadeth – I’ll be honest, I’ve seen Iron Maiden live more than a handful of times. I’ve seen them quite a few times to be honest and I’ll be damned if they still don’t put on one of the best fucking shows in metal, hands down. Once again, I found myself picking my jaw up off the floor of the venue and riding home in a trance like sense of wonderment. “How do they do it? Year after year” I don’t know friends, but when you throw in seasoned thrash metal veterans like Megadeth as an opener with a “Best Of” setlist, what you should end up with is “Concert of the Year”.
Best local band
I was lucky enough to catch Ignitor live a couple times this year and they tore down the house both nights. This is a band on top of their game boasting an all-star lineup of Texas metal greats. Their “Mix Tape ’85” covers album proved to be this year’s soundtrack to the summer and word on the street is that the follow up to last year’s “Year Of The Metal Tiger” might be in the works next year. If you’re from outside of the Lonestar state, do yourself a favor and checkout Ignitor at http://www.ignitorband.com/
Best new band
Death Dealer emerged in the first quarter of 2013 and their debut full length “War Master” had already surfaced by the summer time. All eyes and ears were focused on what this all-star lineup of metal veterans and legends would sound like and Death Dealer delivered on all front’s, knocking it out of the park with the blistering “Death Dealer” the scorching title track “Warmaster” and the crushing “Hammer Down”. Plus, though he has already departed the band, for at least a moment in time we were able to witness former Manowar alumni Kenny “Rhino” Earl team up with Ross “The Boss” Friedman in the same band. I vote these guys best album of the year and best new band of the year.
I just recently found out about Axxion from Canada and I have to say that I am really impressed with their sound. I was looking at various band logos on a poster for next year’s Ragnarokkr festival and looking up the band’s on YouTube and these guys really stand out as having a unique sound and are now one of the band’s I’m most looking forward to checking out at Ragnarokkr next year.
Greatest hopes for 2014
I hope more really good metal continues to get released in CD format. I hope Heaven and Hell, Stormspell, Pure Steel, Swords and Chains, Witches Brew and Moribund Records sell out of all of their titles and make tons of money. I hope that Angel Witch will be able to do an extensive tour of the U.S. and I hope that someone who is reading this that also works for Fender Guitars will send me an Yngwie Malmsteen signature series Stratocaster with scalloped frets.
Leviathan Records Worldwide has just released the first official video off the CHASTAIN Cd “Surrender To No One.” Guitarist David T. Chastain states, “We wanted to get something official up there as soon as possible so we arranged for a lyric video of ‘Rise Up.’ I think it turned out pretty damn good all things considered. There are already quite a few fan videos out there for the new Cd. Some more elaborate than others. We hope to have performance videos for a few of the tracks in the not too distant future. However with members living all over the world it is going to take some ‘studio trickery’ to pull it off. However we have done something similar in the past so it is just a matter of time.”
Following a 17-year recording hiatus, Surgical Steel was the perfect comeback album for England’s resuscitated Carcass. The band produced a death metal masterpiece that not only sounded fresh, new and vital, it raised the bar for contemporary metal, much as they had done already with the gore-grind of their first two albums and the melodic death metal benchmark Heartwork – 20-some years ago. That they continue to amaze is, in and of itself, amazing.
2. Ulcerate – Vermis
Ulcerate – Vermis
The fourth album from this New Zealand trio, Vermis was an avalanche of swirling, elliptical riffing and chaotic drum salvos and stilted tempos that offered the technical dexterity and brutality of Morbid Angel in their prime, the eccentricities of Gorguts and the turbulent rhythmic dynamics of Neurosis – all while managing to sound very little like any of them in particular. That just three guys were making all this glorious noise was nothing short of astonishing.
3. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse put the emphasis on the “symphonic” in the symphonic black/death metal of their wildly ambitious third full-length. Fleshgod took everything to a whole other level of extreme here, creating an staggering the wall of sound with cascading guitars, grandiose keyboards and orchestration and some of the fastest drumming imaginable, and lathering on the layer upon layer of vocals, including some genuine female operatic warbling. Fittingly, to go along with labrynthian arrangements, album is built around a concept based on the Labyrinth of Knososs – the maze from Greek mythology that held the Minotaur.
4. Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light
Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light
These Reading, Pa., upstarts did just about everything right on their remarkable debut full-length. Ass-ripping, challenging tunes with a unique spin on progressive death metal, heady lyrics, cool Dan Seagrave cover art and crackling production from Hate Eternal mainman Erik Rutan combined here to make The Conscious Seed of Light the year’s top death metal debut.
5. Shining – One One One
Once an acoustic jazz outfit, Norwegian avant-gardists Shining created their own metallic sub-genre with 2010’s phenomenal Blackjazz, which fused the disparate elements of wailing jazz, industrial clangor, hard rock hookiness and thrash metal energy. The follow-up One One One could almost be called “blackfunk” thanks to its bouncy, swinging bottom end and loads of groove that go along with churning guitar salvos and frontman Jørgen Munkeby’s shit-fit vocals and John Zorn-like saxophone freakouts. Nobody sounds like these guys, which these days is really saying something.
6. Exhumed – Necrocracy
With their second album since re-animating in 2010, California’s Exhumed offer death metal the wayit should be, but hardly is anymore: complex but still compact, well-played without being wanky, brutal without going to ridiculous extremes, and listenable, if not inviting, in spite of its inherent ghastliness.
7. Gloria Morti – Lateral Constraint
With a definite flair for the dramatic, and a taste for the blasphemous, Finland’s Gloria Morti turned in a masterful symphonic blackened death metal mashup with their fourth album. The band made liberal use of keyboards/synths as a background element, employing them to add depth and bigness to their sound, while being careful to not seem overblown or needlessly theatrical. The effect was brutality with a sense of grace or elegance, especially with the rich, crystalline production. Brilliant stuff.
8. Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam
The fourth album since their comeback, and first since 1995 without departed drummer Mike Smith, Pinnacle of Bedlam showed a tauter, tidier, thrashier side to death metal legends Suffocation, with their technical tendencies taking a backseat to big riffs and vicious delivery. A different kind of brutality, but brutal nonetheless.
9. The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack
A new rhythm section helped get The Black Dahlia Murder back on track after a couple workman-like releases. Loosier, livelier, grittier and more ferocious than they’ve been in a few years, Everblack showed with jarring authority that the band still meant business.
10. Holy Grail – Ride The Void
Their second album Oakland re-thrashers Holy Grail harnessed some of the sheer abandon of their 2010 debut, Crisis In Utopia, tightened up the songwriting and performances and blended power with clever melodies. Delivering booming, moshable hooks and infectious sing-songy choruses by the truckload, not to mention loads of glorious guitar harmonies and shreddy, yet not too indulgent, soloing, Ride The Void was darn near a perfect thrash album.
11. Motörhead – Aftershock
12. Broken Hope – Omen Of Disease
13. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
14. Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
15. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer