2019 Year In Review – Tool
Here is a cross section of some of the the new releases that came out this year:
John Garcia And The Band Of Gold – John Garcia And The Band Of Gold
It is very hard to mistake John Garcia’s voice, or deny his influence. As much as people may focus on former bandmates, his voice was just as important as any other component that made up the seminal band Kyuss. Based on recent comments, this may be Garcia’s last album, and his touring in the US could be coming to a halt as well. A recent show in Las Vegas, which featured members of his previous bands Unida, Hermano and Kyuss (bassist Nick Oliveri), is supposedly his only U.S. electric show for this album.
Callejon – Hartgeld Im Club
If you’re not familiar with the band, they’re probably the second biggest band out of Germany, behind Rammstein, that only sings in German. They’ve got a considerable following not only in their native country, but all over Europe. They are a metalcore band, but this is a covers album, consisting of their renditions of some big hit German hip-hop.
Legion Of the Damned – Slaves Of The Shadow Realm
The Dutch death metal band returns after a four year hiatus, with their first album since 2014’s Ravenous Plague. Based on the material I’ve heard so far, the vocals seem to be a bit more black metal tinged this time around, and for lack of a better term, they have added groove elements to their thrashyness, which is kind of a cool thing. I realize purists might not dig that, but it gives the album a distinct feel that their previous outings did not have.
Mark Deutrom – The Blue Bird
Deutrom is best known for being part of the Melvins, producing, as well as co-founding Alchemy Records. He coincidentally produced the Melvins debut Gluey Porch Treatments, released it on Alchemy, and had his hand in Ozma their second album. He became their bassist from 1993 through 1998. On The Blue Bird, Deutrom plays almost everything you hear on the album. Much like his career, this album covers a lot of ground, that said, I’d say it’s more of an experimental art-rock album.
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Bird Box (Abridged) (Original Score)
This is an abridged version of the full 66 minute Bird Box, which you can pick up digitally from the Nine Inch Nails website, or you can wait a few weeks until it is available on streaming services. Ross & Reznor have worked on twelve soundtracks over the years, including the upcoming release Waves. They have been racking up accolades for their scores, not only from critics and fans, but prestigious awards like the Golden Globes, Academy Awards and Grammys. Reznor has stated that a physical version of the soundtrack should be available in the spring, and may contain plenty of material not included in the digital format, as he and Ross composed a considerable amount of material that was not present in the film.
Soilwork – Verkligheten
I can’t help but think that Bjorn “Speed” Strid’s success in The Night Flight Orchestra (TNFO) has helped shape his approach on Verkligheten. He’s been the constant driving force behind Soilwork, and as others have come and gone from the band, he’s still been there to steer the ship. Although this is definitely a metal album, and he mixes in some of his harsher vocals form the past, but TNFO have released two albums since 2015’s The Majestic, and there is definitely a mellower side to Speed’s vocals on this album. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but we all know how the purists react to these types of changes. I for one have been along for the ride since 2005’s Stabbing The Drama, and have enjoyed every release since. Seeing Soilwork attached to a release has been synonymous with quality in my opinion, and so far this album has not let me down. Verkligheten also marks the debut of Bastian Thusgaard on drums, after the departure of longtime drummer Dirk Verbeuren for Megadeth.
Jinjer – Micro
Mark Strigl caught up Tatiana Shmailyuk & Eugene Abdiukhanov of the band while at Heavy Montreal, you can check that interview out here: Talking Metal episode 769. The band is working on a full length follow up to 2016’s King Of Everything, but in the meantime had to urge to write some new material that Abdiukhanov has claimed to be “a monster”, thus Mirco EP. The band has been on tour with Amorphis and Soilwork since late last year, and kick off their European tour today. The band will continue to tour up until the spring when they headline their own tour of South Africa.
A Pale Horse Named Death – When The World Becomes Undone
I have posted about this upcoming release quite a bit on Talking Rock. Having been a huge fan of Life Of Agony since River Runs Red, I was of course going to check out any new release by a former member of the band. This is Sal Abruscato’s third album with A Pale Horse Named Death, and if you’re a fan of the first two, man, this will definitely not disappoint. Doomie, sludgie, heavy and punishing, all around gothic metal greatness.
Flotsam And Jetsam – The End Of Chaos
Back when I was in college radio the band’s album Cuatro was huge, it was pushed like no other album at the time by MCA. I still have singles from the album, and a VHS copy of their video “Wading Through The Darkness”. People panned the album because it was their “black album” like that was supposed to be a bad thing, to me it was one of the strongest releases of that decade. They never regained the popularity they had at the time, which dare I say rivaled the Jason Newsted years, but fickle fans remember those first two albums best. It’s a shame because they’ve always managed to offer good material on every album, regardless of where their music takes them on each album. The End Of Chaos is no different, it is their thirteenth release, and the first to feature the renown Ken Mary on drums.
Altitudes & Attitude – Get It Out
One of the best interview I ever conducted was with Frank Bello, it was split into two parts, discussing Anthrax’s Sound Of White Noise, and discussing what the band had been doing at the time, which was preparing For All Kings. At the time I asked him about Altitudes & Attitude and he flat out told me they had the second album ready to go, but their day jobs in Megadeth and Anthrax kept them from being able to commit more time to their side project. I am happy that the album is about to drop, the first single Late is killer, and hearing Opus talk to Mark Strigl on a recent episode of Talking Metal about being the band’s touring drummer hyped me up even more.
Fever 333 – Strength In Numb333rs
The band received a ton of press after the release of their EP Made An America, both for their material and their bombastic live show. They have created their own niche by mixing what people miss most about Rage Against The Machine, Hybrid Theory Linkin Park, and added some metalcore/hardcore breakdowns to boot. They offer thought provoking angst filled lyrics, while dousing you with melodies that stuck in your head, and help drive the message home.
Raven – Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg
John Gallagher was recently on Talking Metal to discuss this album, the band’s third live album. The wonders of technology, where someone working the board can just fork over a soundboard recording with a snap of a finger. And thus you have this little ditty, recorded in Denmark. As per Gallagher, there were minimal re-records, just a spot where he broke a string.
Kane Roberts – The New Normal
The former Alice Cooper seems to really be back with a vengeance. I have followed Kane on Facebook for years, so I knew he been working on an album for awhile. When I saw that he signed with Frontiers it was 50/50 for me, I either love the material they release, or it does nothing for me, there is honestly no inbetween, at least for me. Once it was announced the album was coming out, it immediately intrigued me. Was it a guy coming back just to collect a paycheck, or someone that was going to blow my face off and say “take notice, I’m back.” Roberts was recently interviewed on Talking Metal, and discussed how he was allowed to take as long as he wanted on the album, and it shows, I haven’t heard one negative review of the album, and quite the opposite, I keep hearing “you have to check out The New Normal.” The album is littered with guest appearances from Alice Cooper, to Alissa White-Gluz, John 5, to former Cooper bandmates Kip Winger, Paul Taylor and Ken Mary, as well as current Alice guitarist Nita Strauss.
Puppy – The Goat
This has been an early revelation for 2019, initially I thought, no way I’m checking this band out due to the name. But I decided to give it a shot, and I have to say that I’ve listened to The Goat quite a bit since I received the promo in December. The band is a lot of different things, I’ve seen reviews that say there is nothing like them, but I like to think they’re an amalgam of several bands, which are hopefully their influences. You have crushing riffs like Chevelle and early CKY, mixed in with melodies that will get stuck in your head for days that are like a mix of Muse, and Ozzy. Add solid bass, and drums to the mix, and you have Puppy. They happen to make it all their own, and I have to admit that this is an album I expect to see on my end of year list.
Jetboy – Born to Fly
This album was recently reviewed on the site by Tyson Briden. I have yet to heard Born To Fly yet, but Tyson gave it a 9.5 out of 10, and that speaks volumes. Based on his review, and that of others, it is bringing together the old with the new, it definitely sounds like Jetboy, but the band was smart enough to take advantage of modern day studio entrapments, enough so the album sounds fresh and new as opposed to other bands just trying to do more of the same old same old.
Metallica – Helping Hands…Live & Acoustic At The Masonic
This isn’t actually the first time the band has taken some of these songs for a spin into the acoustic realm. A few years back they were part of the Bridge School Benefit, an annual fundraiser put together by Neil Young and his ex-wife, Young has since stepped aside. This release is set to benefit Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation, which aims to “fight hunger and to assist in creating sustainable communities through workforce education.” The album consists of acoustic versions of Metallica songs, along with covers of Deep Purple, Nazareth, Bob Seger, and Blue Oyster Cult.
Within Temptation – Resist
The Dutch band returns with their first album since 2014’s Hydra. They boast that this is a step forward in their evolution, and reflects on current times, and what they foresee coming in the future. Much like previous albums, this one has its list of guest appearances, most notably Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach, and Anders Friden of In Flames.
Avantasia – Moonglow
Essentially Tobias Sammet’s solo vehicle, disguised behind the Avantasia moniker, and always consisting in a slew of guest appearances. Moonglow is no different, featuring the likes of Ronnie Atkins, Jørn Lande, Eric Martin, Geoff Tate, Michael Kiske, Bob Catley, Candice Night, Hansi Kürsch and Kreator mainman, Mille Petrozza.
Die Klute – Planet Fear
The debut album by industrial metal supergroup that features Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps, Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip, and Dino Cazares from Fear Factory. The album is packed with ten original tracks that harken back to classic 90s KMFDM, Ministry, and any other band you associate to the industrial metal revolution. The album also includes a cover of the Public Enemy song “She Watch Channel Zero”.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Cyboogie
The Australian rock band rock band releases their 14th album in five years! Including three albums that charted in the top 4 in their native country, and five top 30 releases on the US indie charts. If you’re not familiar with them, their name is an obvious nod to Jim Morrison, but they’re more of a throwback to late 60s, early 70s psychedelic rock in the vein of Hawkwind as opposed to sounding like The Doors.
Soen – Lotus
The band put together by original Opeth drummer Martin Lopez is releasing their fourth album Lotus. The band started out as a supergroup of sorts, and although members have changed, they’ve continued to release music that is heavily inspired by Tool, King Crimson, and as displayed perfectly by the title track of the new album, Pink Floyd.
Herman Frank – Fight the Fear
This is an album that I was looking forward to checking out as soon as it was announced. The previous solo release by Herman The Devil Rides Out was a sleeper, and really caught me off guard. Much like the previous album, Herman has put together what you could deem an all-star lineup of German musicians, Masterplan lead singer Rick Altzi, former Rage drummer André Hilgers, Jaded Heart bassist Michael Müller, and guitarist Heiko Schröder. If you love any of Herman’s work in Accept, Victory, Panzer or his solo work, this is one you’ll need to check out.
Beast in Black – From Hell With Love
What happens when you mix modern metal production, with symphonic stylings, a dash of power metal and throw in the pop sensibility of ABBA? Well, you get Finland’s Beat In Black. The band’s second album doesn’t fall far from 2017’s Berserker, it is full of sing along choruses that get stuck in your head for days. The band was formed by guitarist Anton Kabanen after leaving Battle Beast, the band is his vision of metal, crossing over various aspects of Scandinavian music that have become popular over the years, with lyrics that are heavily influenced by Japanese Manga.
Rosy Vista – Unbelievable
Billed as Germany’s first hard rock band, Rosy Vista was around from 84 to 89, and at the time had only released one EP. Fast forward 30 years, the band is back, releasing their first full length. There is nothing to hide here, if you’re a fan of the lighter side of 80s hard rock, you’ll love this album, as it is pure unadulterated AOR. Eleven tracks, that consist of ten originals, and a cover of the Steppenwolf classic “Born To Be Wild”.
Emerald Sabbath – Ninth Star
This is an interesting compilation that is a tribute to Black Sabbath, and is made up of recordings that feature ten former members of the band, as well as producers, artists, and string arrangers that previously worked with the band. The project was put together by Michael Suilleabhain, who was recently interviewed on Talking Metal about the album. One of the former members that lends lead vocals to quite a bit of the album is Ron Keel, he also spoke to Talking Metal recently, discussing his brief time in the band, and this album with Mark Strigl.
Trauma – As The World Dies
The band will forever be known as the band that gave Metallica and the world Cliff Burton. Cliff recorded their demo in 1982, but was gone by the time they released their first full length, 1984’s Scratch And Scream. The band would dissolve shortly there after, and get back together three decades later, for 2015’s Rapture And Wrath. The new album, As The World Dies, is Trauma doing what they do best, a mix of mostly classic heavy metal in the vein of 80s NWOBHM, with a twinge of thrash mixed in for good measure. Joining them on the album is former Testament bassist Greg Christian.
Electric Mary – Mother
Funny when people say “have you heard this new band” a lot of times they should say, a new band to them, as in they just discovered them. That’s the case with Australia’s Electric Mary, this is the first time I’ve come across them and had the pleasure of listening to their music. If you were to take Jeff Keith from Tesla’s vocals, and mash that band’s 70s hard rock influence with the blues infused hard rock that has made Clutch famous, then you could wrap your head around what the band is all about. It is unadulterated, unapologetic 70s rock, which is electrified, and set ablaze by the band. They are known for their live performances, and are internationally heralded in various publications for their previous releases. Hopefully they become new to you as well, and you check them out.
Rotting Christ – The Heretics
The Greek band is probably best known for being kicked off of a festival bill by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine due to the band’s name, or so the rumor goes. This is the band’s thirteenth studio album, to their credit, they show that they are more than a simple black metal band. Sure the themes discusses about being anti-religion are nothing new for bands in this genre, but they take risks and explore various forms of hard rock and metal that others would be too worried to called sell outs to include on their albums. Instead of looking over their shoulders and worrying about pursists saying you can’t include goth rock elements, or true metal bands don’t do those types of solos, they give any one that would try to shun them the same middle finger they give to anyone trying to throw their religious virtues on them. Good on them for continuing to discuss and play what they believe in.
Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
There are several versions of this release, with limited edition artwork, a deluxe box set with CD, Vinyl, DVD and BluRay. One thing that hardly varies, is the band’s die-hard audience, this is the band’s 14th album, and the first for Inside Out Music, a label gobbled up by Sony in their acquisition of Century Media. You can debate all day who started the progressive metal movement, was it Queensryche, was it Dream Theater with Images And Words? Even if you don’t think Dream Theater kicked things off, they probably have impacted the subgenre more than any other band, with many other bands pointing to them as the reason they decided to follow the progressive side of things. The album takes the best elements of the band, and mashes them together, it is their shortest album since the aforementioned Images And Words, and you could argue it is their heaviest, and least progressive as a result. The last nine years have not been easy for the band, the departure of Mike Portnoy who was a key contributor to the band, seemed to impact the band more than they’d like to lead on. Not knocking the last two albums, as they’ve had moments of brilliance, but Distance Over Time seems to find a band righting the ship, and bring things back to a place that not only their core fanbase will love, but also the borderline followers of the band.
Overkill – The Wings of War
The New Jersey thrash juggernauts return with their 19th album, marking their first release with their new drummer Jason Bittner. This is the first time the band has actually gone out and brought in a “big name” into their lineup. Bittner had been playing with Flotsam And Jetsam, as well as a few other projects, but is most known for his work with Shadows Fall. Given the band’s longevity, and all of the great musicians that have come and gone over the years, people will always debate which lineup is best, what album or era is the greatest, etc. But there is no denying that from Ironbound to now, the band hasn’t put out a bad album, and that’s not saying that they ever have. The Wings Of War is on par with band’s last four albums, so if you enjoy any of their recent releases check this album out, you’ll more than likely enjoy it. Overkill much like Motorhead have gone through incremental changes, you know who they are once you hear Blitz’s voice, and D.D.’s bass, much like you knew who Motorhead was once you heard Lemmy’s vocals, and bass. Although the band has experimented over the years, and has always kept things interesting for fans, they have never really strayed far from what got them to the dance.
Candlemass – The Door to Doom
Heralded by many as an instant doom metal classic, the album marks the return of the band’s original lead singer Johan Langquist, who left thirty three years ago. He bailed on the band after singing on their debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. The album features a collaboration with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, on the cephalopod inspired track “Astorolus”. Sabbath was obviously a huge influence on the band, and the whole doom metal genre, so to have Iommi on the track is a huge get for the band. To find out more about the album, check out previous posts on Talking Rock, where we initially discussed its release in December, and posted a video for the track “The Omega Circle”.
Tora Tora – Bastards of Beale
Mark Strigl recently spoke to Keith Douglas, the band’s lead guitarist, you can check out that interview here. Bastards Of Beale marks the first studio album released by the band in 1992’s Wild America. Those that know the Memphis band’s story, are aware that they did record an album called Revolution Day in 1994 that had never seen the light of day, until 2011, thanks to record label politics. I can’t say that I was big on the band back in the day, because my love was waning for anything that MTV was adding to Headbangers Ball, that remotely looked like an L.A. strip band. This was an error on my behalf because I bundled Tora Tora into a category where they may have looked a certain way given what was going on around them, and not really giving their music a shot. Everything I’ve heard off of this album is just killer, there is no other way to put it. If you’re a fan of hard rock music, check this album out.
Last in Line – II
This was an album I was very much looking forward to checking out, given how much I loved Heavy Crown, and think Starmaker is one of the best tracks of the last few years. But I can’t lie, I have soured on this album big time, given the whole Pledge Music debacle. People can point fingers all they want, but I’m out $80, for a vinyl album that I will probably never see. The band did a really poor job handling this situation, when they essentially bailed on all of the fans that pre-ordered the album via pledge. They’re not the only ones, Queensryche did the exact same thing. At the end of the day, the fans are the big losers, I was supposed to have at least a download of this album, and had an autographed vinyl on the way, instead I’ve heard and read plenty of ambiguous statements by the band, saying “oh this is easy, just dispute the charge with your credit card company”. It shows they’ve never had to do that, nonetheless dispute a charge you willingly made four months ago. I’ve heard Phil Soussan say “no big deal, you’ll have your money back in 30 to 45 days”, while the bank is telling me “you may never see this money again”. So I am currently looking at being out that money, and not getting my hands on the vinyl I ordered. Bernie Tormé, who is currently in the intensive care unit of a hospital released a statement how pledge screwed him also, but wasn’t going to turn around and screw his fans. He was delivering every last piece of merchandise fans purchased, and then his lawyers would try and recoup the money from Pledge Music. This, in my opinion is how this should have been handled. Instead I royally annoyed when it comes to thinking about this album, because all of the nonsense I have to put up with now in order to finally get it. Which again, given the circumstances, I don’t think I ever will. The band has to factor in that some people are in a difficult financial situation, perhaps a few months back could afford to back the project, and so, pre-ordered and paid for an album months ago. Fast forward to now, the money is tied up between the bank, and Pledge Music, you’re waiting to recover that money, so you can repay for something you should already have in your possession. Because at the moment your out that money, but the band thinks its easy, “just pay us again”, and fight your credit card company for the next few months, because we’ve already washed our hands in the entire situation. Point the figure all you want at Pledge Music, but at the end of the day, the band dropped the ball, I understand, they’re looking to recoup their investment, but should it be at the behest of your core audience? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to tell people not to pick up the album, it is solid from top to bottom, and I know people will say, who cares what happened to anyone that pledged, I just want to hear it. I know people that pledged will say, the band let me down, but I still want to hear it. I’m just hoping for all of this to get resolved, and the band comes through and honors what they originally offered. Because let’s be honest, we all pledged for the band, not the service. So in good faith, we backed them, followed them, supported them. The platform didn’t honestly matter, we all had the band in mind when deciding to make our purchase, when deciding to help them out.
Queensryche – The Verdict
Like most, I was thrilled in the direction Queensryche took once Todd LaTorre took over on lead vocals. The band had been lost since Chris DeGarmo left after Hear In The Now Frontier, don’t get me wrong there were glimpses here and there, but mostly missteps. I still don’t understand how they didn’t have Ronnie James Dio use his “maniacal” voice when portraying Dr. X. Most of their career post DeGarmo felt like a lot of season two of True Detective, and what I mean by saying that, we heard pieces that made us think “ok, it’s safe to come out and play again”, there were signs that this was the band that put out Rage To Order, Operation Mindcrime and Empire. But much like the Medellin trailer from Entourage, any movie can be edited to a thirty second trailer and look great. It’s the other three hours of movie you have sit through that kind of suck. I’m not saying that anything Queensryche has released has outright sucked, but it surely didn’t hold my attention like previous albums, there were a lot of just ok moments, where if it were another band, I may have bailed, or not given them a chance. In 2013 the band released their first album with LaTorre, the self-titled Queensryche, which was the band showing they could still hang with their former selves. Then came 2015’s Condition Hüman, which saw the band experimenting a little, while still following that early Queensryche blueprint. The Verdict is an amalgam of both, in the sense that they’ve spread their wings a little more, yet they are still delivering what made us fall in love with them in the late 80s and early 90s. However, I will say that I think this is the most solid release with LaTorre in the band. I like the previous two, but they both have tracks that I skip over when listening to. The new album doesn’t have any of those moments, I feel that it is their most solid release since Promise Land. It feels like they took more time crafting all of the songs on the album, instead of a producer or label saying “we need one more”. It really feels like they took their time to ensure every song on the album was as strong as could be. Tracks like “Blood Of Levant”, “Man The Machine”, “Dark Reverie” and “Light-Years” put the album over the top. To the point where I’ve been playing several of these songs consistently these last few days. And with all of the talk about Scott Rockenfield not being on the album, LaTorre has done a great job filling in, is there any musician in the band that he can’t mimic? You may not share my opinion on the album, but I do think long time fans of the band will not be disappointed.
Mark Morton – Anesthetic
This has been a long time coming, since the collaboration with Dez Fafara on a project that never went past the demo stage, to Morton tweeting about different things he was into that had nothing to do with what he’s known for in Lamb Of God. So I’ve been eagerly awaiting for this release for some time. Then I read the list of people involved, and I thought, this could be great, or could really suck. The smartest thing they did was release the track “The Truth Is Dead” with Randy Blythe, and Alissa White-Gluz first, it’s the closest thing to Lamb Of God on the album, given that Blythe is singing on the track, and the Arch Enemy vocalist lends her guttural vocals stylings to the song as well. Then they went with the rumored Chester Bennington track, “Cross Off”, which again, was a brilliant move, showing the contrast in styles throughout the album. It seemed before there was confirmation, sites were already making assumption about who, and on what Morton had worked with on the album. Especially given the direction Linkin Park went in over the years. This prompted Morton to stand up and confirm his collaboration with Chester, with little hesitation. The album is very diverse, no two songs sound alike, which I absolutely love. What became laughable to me was how sites known for how “metal” they are are couldn’t come to terms with there being various elements of hard rock and metal present on the album. I’ve read one review that said “it sounds like two albums a Lamb Of God album and a blues album”. Yeah, I don’t hear the Mississippi delta on this one, sorry. The closest thing to flat out blues is “Axis” which has a ton of acoustic guitar and features former Screaming Trees’ vocalist Mark Lanegan on it. But that track is more of a cross between Johnny Cash, and Everlast, than Buddy Guy, or Robert Johnson. Look, all things rock are based in the blues, so even the heaviest of metal borrows something from the blues. But the track “Blur” with Mark Morales of the band Sons Of Texas is the best Dokken song released in ages! I’m not sure if Morton is a fan of George Lynch, but I do know he’s a fan of Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page’s open string playing, something Lynch kind of made his own over the last few decades, and well his playing sounds like him on the track. Then you have “Imaginary Days”, which based on the fact that there are no guests mentioned on the track, seems to be Morton singing lead on it. This track is also very cool, and has a very 80s hard rock sounding as well. There is no shame in that, or this album at all, I listen to it and feel as if Morton didn’t care about anyone’s opinion, he just wanted to do an honest album that he wanted to hear. So if you like the heaviness of the album, cool, if you like the more hard rock aspects, awesome, if you like all of the twists and turns, great. As I alluded to above, the album is full of guests, that although I may not be a fan of their normal band, I really enjoyed their contribution to this album. It, in my opinion has lived up to the hype, and is one of my favorite things to come out so far this year.
Demon Hunter – Peace
Demon Hunter – War
The Seattle band has been around for quite some time now, establishing itself as a band that has survived several metal trends that have consumed a lot of their contemporaries. This time around they have decided to release two albums, and much like their respective titles suggests, each album is a polar opposite from one another. The band has been seen by many as the American Soilwork, which is possibly why they ventured into releasing a double album. But when you look back at bands that have decided to release two albums at the same time, or relatively close to one another, how many times do you look back and say “wow, so awesome that we got all those songs from them” instead of “I wish they would have condensed this in to a single disc”. I’m sure die-hards are saying the former, while the more casual fans are saying the latter. And their off, the debate has begun, get ready for years of bickering among fans. Even before the release of the albums, metal sites have begun bashing Peace‘s lighter more mellow material, while loving War. Honestly this isn’t entirely shocking, given the fact that a lot of sites look over their shoulders before giving you their opinion to ensure that their still saying what visitors of their sites think is cool. In the end, if you love this band’s previous work, you’ll probably like these albums, if you’re on the fence or unfamiliar with them, stream it first, and pick up the album you prefer.
In Flames – I, the Mask
The band helped establish what became known as the Gothenburg sound, with those first few melodic death metal albums, but shifted their focus a few years after. Still putting out quality music over the years, albums like Clayman, Soundtrack To Your Escape, and Come Clarity immediately come to mind, heavy, punishing, yet melodic, and possibly classified by most as metalcore. But starting with A Sense Of Purpose the band began to shift their focus in a more commercial direction, getting a little more modern hard rock with each subsequent release. Along the way they’ve lost some key members of the band, most notably Jesper Strömblad and Peter Iwers, couple that with them signing to a management company that’s known for Papa Roach, Sixx A.M., and the like, and I think a lot of people started to see the band, and the album as a lost cause. Instead, the band promised, and has delivered, arguably their heaviest, and most guitar driven album in over a decade, since the aforementioned Come Clarity. That said, there will be a lot of purists that will still complain about the hard rock aspects of the album, but what I think the band has excelled at doing with this album is combining what they’ve done in the last decade, and given you a glimpses of the past without getting overly nostalgic. Could they do like Paradise Lost, and pull a 180, going back to their roots and deliver something closer to Lunar Strain or The Jester Race? Stranger things have happened, but given the trajectory of the last three albums, I kind of doubt it. None of the albums have been flat out bad, but I, The Mask, is definitely a push in a heavier direction, what most would consider an upgrade over the last few releases by the band.
Mike Tramp – Stray From The Flock
The former White Lion singer could easily do what so many of bands that reached notoriety in the late 80s have done, find a label to keep releasing nostalgic material that imitates and leeches off of his past. He could have bitched about grunge, and faded away getting an “everyday job” and not being heard from in years, only to come back for a cash grab, etc. We’ve all seen these cases, and hey, nothing wrong with that, sometimes you got to do, what you’ve got to do. But, Tramps seems to have carved his own route, instead of doing any of the things I mentioned, he released several albums with the band Freak Of Nature, and then began his journey as a solo artist. Along the way he’s done something atypical for people that had big hits like he did, and that’s put out his own music without purposely trying to find that radio hit that so many artists pine for. Along the way he’s varied styles, and looks, but done it all on his terms. Stray From The Flock is his 11th solo album, and as you can tell from the video “Dead End Ride”, has little to do with the band, or music that catapulted him to the top of the charts. From Mable, to White Lion, to his solo career, he seems to have forged his own path, and done it his way.
Backyard Babies – Silver And Gold
The Swedish rock scene has never had a shortage of great acts, Backyard Babies has always been considered one of Sweden’s premier acts. Silver & Gold marks the band’s 30th anniversary, The band had been known to deliver everything from hard rock to punk, to glam metal and flat our rock n roll. Hell the term sleaze rock was created to essentially describe them. Although the band had disassembled in the middle of the 2000s, they came back in 2015 with Four By Four, and are back four years later with Silver And Gold. With this album, they have released eight overall, six of which have landed them in the top three of their native Sweden.
Ron Keel – Fight Like A Band
The name Ron Keel has been around since the early 80s, he has been in Steeler with Yngwie Malmsteen, the band Keel, which is how most were first introduced to the name, Fair Game, the country project IronHorse, his solo work, and a quick stint in Black Sabbath. Fight Like A Band is Ron’s first release on David Ellefson’s EMP label, it is his fifth solo release, and his first since 2014’s Metal Cowboy. Always a great interview, and a great story teller, check out his Patreon if you don’t believe me, this album serves up all of Ron Keel goodness you’ve come to know all of these years.
Tesla – Shock
I’ve already seen this labeled as Tesleppard, and it seems that the reviews of the album either trash it, or love it, kind of no in between. The album was produced by Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, he also co-wrote every track on the album. Have you been looking for a second part to Hysteria? Well you’ve found it! Everything I’ve heard off of the album sounds like Def Leppard, I love Tesla, but I can’t help but think this is them wanting to get back on the radio one more time, and pander to an audience that just isn’t there. This album will only serve to alienate the audience, this is a kin to Scorpions Eye To Eye, it may appeal to the casual fan, or those wearing Tesla horse blinders. The last album that I really loved by the band was Into The Now, and as much as I thought parting with Tommy Skeoch was a good thing, given all of the stories that were floating around. I figured, sure, let’s see what Dave Rude, can do, I wanted him and the band to wow me, but I’m not sure I feel that way anymore. I see a lot of parallels between Def Leppard and Tesla, the biggest being the fact that the meat and potatoes, the harder edge is missing from both bands. With the absence of Tommy, they lost the majority of their bite, and in the case of Def Leppard, Steve Clark’s passing did the same exact thing. There are no huge riffs, like “Solution” that just get stuck in your head, that intertwines with a melody that makes it a hard rock earworm. I want to love this, as I’ve spent hours upon hours listening to them, but I can’t help but think it’s a poor attempt at doing what a lot of bands were doing in the late 80s, essentially what Tesla originally shied away from. Tesla was definitely a band that wasn’t original, pulling from 70s hard rock, but were great songwriters, and didn’t need to follow trends, they didn’t dawn the eyeliner or aquanet, they did their thing, and were unfortunately grouped in with others that tried to copy Def Leppard’s sound and look. If anything they, sounded closer to the albums that helped build up to Hysteria like Pyromania, High N Dry and On Through The Night. All these years later it seems like they’ve decided to finally join the club, and put out the glam metal album they never did in their initial run. The sucker in me will keep coming back because I am still a huge fan of their music, especially their first five album. But I can’t help but think that they keep getting farther and farther off course.
Damon Johnson – Memoirs Of An Uprising
This album, and Damon have been all over Talking Rock for the last few months. You want a review of the album? We got you covered. How about an interview with Damon talking about the album, and his career? Yep, we got that too. What’s missing? How about Damon giving you a rundown of his gear, well check that out here. In the event that you’re not aware of Damon, or his music, he’s best known for Brother Cane, Alice Cooper, and Black Star Riders. He’s worked with people like Stevie Nicks and Carlos Santana. He’s a member of Thin Lizzy current touring lineup. And he stepped away from Black Star Riders, the Thin Lizzy off shoot, to invest more time in his solo career. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the album, can’t wait to check it out myself.
Buckcherry – Warpaint
This is the band’s first album with their new revamped Buckcherry lineup, the first without founding member and guitarist, Keith Nelson. It is also their first on the Sony owned Century Media, and their first time since 15 that they’ve worked with producer Mike Plotnikoff. I have to admit that I think their first two albums are their best, and actually prefer lead singer Josh Todd’s solo album, and his side project Josh Todd & The Conspiracy over pretty much everything Buckcherry has recorded. But I do enjoy what I heard off of the album so far the song “Bent” reminds me of Electric era The Cult, well both bands have have previously sipped from the well of AC/DC.
Children of Bodom – Hexed
Alexi Laiho and the gang return with their 10th studio album, and marks the first with guitarist Daniel Freyberg. If you’re a die-hard that has been turned off by the last few albums, this is being heralded as a return to form by the band. Not to say that their last few albums were bad, they have experimented a lot more after the success of Hate Crew Deathroll, and I get that they didn’t want to get pigeonholed or referred to as a one trick pony. Hexed, seems to focus more on what got them to the dance, and although the band is spreading their wings, their experimentation isn’t as pronounced on this album. It’s there, a lot more subtle than in the past, with slightly different tempos than we’re accustomed by the band, and perhaps a more thought out approach to the musical composition of the album. Freyberg has also been a welcome addition to the band, as his style is so different to Alexi’s that it works perfectly to add something different that previous guitarist Roope Latvala didn’t bring to the table.
Meat Puppets – Dusty Notes
The Phoenix, Arizona band released their first album, a self-titled debut in 1982. And has released a new album on a yearly basis, all the way up until 1995’s No Joke! But their notoriety comes from Nirvana covering them, and inviting members of the band out to play with them during their MTV Unplugged In New York album. Shortly after they had a hit with the song “Backwater”, and then came a series of on again, off again breakups, and reunions before the brothers Kirkwood decided to get back together again in 2006. Dusty Notes is the band’s 15th studio album, and marks the return of original drummer Derrick Bostrom.
Foreigner – Rainbow 78
I can’t consider myself a fan of the band beyond their albums from the 70s, although I was duped into buying Unusual Heat years ago, as several reviews I read said it was a return to their heavier 70s work, not quite. This album, is being released in several formats, including dvd, it was recorded a little over 40 years ago at the fabled Rainbow Theater in London, with the classic lineup of Jones, Gramm, McDonald, Greenwood, Gagliardi and Elliott. The other thing you need to consider is this is probably as live as you get from the band, considering they probably didn’t touch anything up, specifically the vocals all these years later. Then again, let’s not forget how perfect the current lineup of the band is when it comes to reproducing music from their heyday, but I doubt that was the case. There are very few bands from that decade that put out better flat out rock music, and as a result, I’m excited to check the dvd version of this album out.
The Bouncing Souls – Crucial Moments
The band has been around for 30 years, and even though they have played on underdog themes and angst related to various topics including love, and just flat out living, they have always remained fairly positive. Vocalist Greg Attonito, guitarist Pete Steinkopf, and bassist Bryan Kienlen emerged from the land of the fat cat sandwich back in 89, and aside from doing their best imitation of Spinal Tap, switching drummers a few times for those that don’t get where I was going with that, the band has stuck together and grinded it out ever since. They have released ten studio albums, two live albums, one compilation album, and with Crucial Moments, 15 EPs, which for those of you not up to date on your punk rock culture, the EP or the split is pretty common practice among bands of this genre. Not too shabby, here’s to 30 more years!
Omicida – Defrauded Reign
I have been a fan of this band for several years, as I have always been in contact with people that have been in and out of White Wizzard. The band was formed by Giovanni Durst, former drummer of White Wizzard (WW), and if you’ve ever listened to me interview any of the former members of the band, you’ll know there is a tight knit family tree. Case in point, Giovanni is also the drummer of Monument, featuring former WW alumni Lewis Stephens and Peter Ellis, and Wallner / Vain which features Will Wallner another former member of WW. Former WW guitarist Erik Kluiber has also lent his his playing to Omicida. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him, back when WW was opening for Iced Earth. At the time he mentioned that Dave Lombardo was his biggest influence, and that thrash was his favorite form of metal, and although WW wasn’t doing that at the time, he could see himself releasing thrash music in the future. That’s were Omicida comes in, Defrauded Reign is the band’s second full length album. If you’re looking to get your fix of Slayer influenced thrash, look no further, although the band is spread out all over the world, there is no denying that what drives them has its origins in California.
Motley Crue – The Dirt Soundtrack
After so many stops and starts The Dirt is finally here, it would be hard to say that Bohemian Rhapsody influenced the release of this biopic given that it was in the works for so long. The album is a essentially a greatest hits album with four new tracks that have The Dirt forced into the lyrics somehow. As much as I’ve loved this band over the years, and I’d still say that Shout At The Devil is one of the greatest albums ever released, I’d even say four of their albums are in my list of all time favorites, I think the track “Crash And Burn” (which reminds me of Van Halen) is pretty cool, while the others leave me kind of cold. When this band as at the top of their game, very few are better, but when they aren’t, it leaves you kind of disappointed given what they’re capable of. I do realize that I have a weird taste in music for most, and that a ton of people will love all of these new songs no matter what. I have no issue with them releasing new music every now and then, I actually welcome it, and applaud them for only doing a handful of songs, rather giving us 1 good song, and 12 mediocre to bad songs for no reason other than to appease a label.
The End Machine – The End Machine
Is this 75% of Dokken or 75% Lynch Mob? Obviously George Lynch, Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson make up the majority of Dokken’s best known line-up, while subtracting Pilson and adding Robert Mason gives you three of the four musicians to appear on the second Lynch Mob album. Robert is probably best known for his work with Warrant, but his work in Lynch Mob has always been stellar. By the way would the big metal sites list Mason as “former Ozzy vocalist Robert Mason”? Anyway, getting back on track here, you can argue all you want about about Robert’s vocals over Don Dokken’s, or how his version of Warrant compares to Jani Lane’s various incarnations, but what you can’t dispute is Robert’s talent. The chemistry between the four components is there, each one delivering all of the juicy goodness we’ve come to know from each of them. Although I am a huge fan of George’s, I can say I’m in to every project he releases, there are some albums that have one decent song, and the rest does absolutely nothing for me. This seems to be the opposite of that, there is just something special about George and Jeff Pilson working together, they bring the best out of each other most of the time, and it is a shame that they don’t work together more often.
Burning Rain – Face The Music
When Doug Aldrich is on, there are very few hard rock guitarists better. Burning Rain has always revolved around him, and lead vocalist Keith St. John who you may know from his time in Montrose, or even Quiet Riot. This time around the rhythm section is made up of Y&T bassist Brad Lang, and former Slaughter drummer Blas Elias. Much like their previous releases, Face The Music is an unapologetic in your face mix between 70s and 80s hard rock, that just needs to be played loud. If you’re a fan of Aldrich’s playing, this album surely will not disappoint, it makes you wonder why there aren’t more albums by the band, as it seems like this is a passion project, while what he releases with Dead Daisies is his “day job”.
Devin Townsend – Empath
Devin has never been shy about trying different things, hence why he broke up the successful Devin Townsend Project, and decided to work on a solo album. The initial rumors were that it would be a pop album. But in the end, it seem like he’s culled together bits and pieces of things that have worked throughout his career and Empath is the answer of this massive musical equation Devin put together. By all accounts he has succeeded an delivered another album his diehard fan base will gobble up.
L.A. Guns – The Devil You Know
The second album after Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis decided to get back together under this moniker. This is technically their twelfth album if you count every album that included at least one of the two aforementioned members of the band. The Missing Peace really showed fans that the combination of Lewis and Guns had not slowed down like so many other bands, and they showed that they didn’t need to rehash “The Ballad Of Jane” twelve times to make the album successful. Much like that album, this is the band going for the jugular, and showing why they should be in the conversation when the top hard rock bands from L.A. are discussed.
Lance King – ReProgram
Lance King has always been a good friend to Talking Metal, appearing on the show several times over the years, including the recently released episode 803. You may remember the name from his time in bands like Pyramaze, Avian Balance Of Power and Gemini, but ReProgram is his second solo album, mixing his brand of singing, with some modern sensibilities, thus giving you what he deems Celestial Metal.
The Quireboys – Amazing Disgrace
The band marks its 35 anniversary with what it is calling their most diverse album yet. I came to find out about them due to a sticker that came with an old Metal Hammer magazine I picked up around the time their debut album came out. When I got back home to New Jersey I saw the same album cover but didn’t understand why the band was called the London Quireboys, then on an episode of Headbangers Ball, they explained what was up. Needless to say, it is a major milestone for any band to be around that long. This marks the band’s sixth album in seven years, but they swear that it’s all quality over quantity. Recommended to anyone that’s into their brand of rock, a mix between the Stones, Aerosmith, with a hint of 80s sleaze.
Brant Bjork – Jacoozzi
Brant is a legend, we’ve documented that almost every time he’s released something new, and that’s been pretty frequently. At this point, very little needs to be said to intro this incredible musician or any of his many accolaids. This new album was recorded back in 2010, it started with him jamming on the drums, and then he proceeded to add all the additional instrumentation along the way. Brant admits to improving throughout this album, so there are varying styles of things you can hear, from jazz, to funk, to that Brant Bjork signature Desert sound, mixed in with anything else that he felt like playing. May be not the best way to introduce someone to Brant, but a must have for a die-hard.
Skold – Never Is Now
Tim Tim, Tim Skold, or just plain old Skold. I’ve followed him since he was the bassist in Shotgun Messiah, through his solo work, MDKFM, Marilyn Manson, remixes and more. For those that got stuck on the first two Shotgun Messiah albums, and forewent Violent New Breed, you’d probably miss out on the fact that Skold has focused almost primarily on instriral music since around 1993. Never Is Now follows the path he has taken as a solo artist, evolving every so slightly from album to album. If you’re into moody industrial music, this might be the album for you.
Periphery – Periphery IV: Hail Stan
This is Periphery’s first release for their newly formed 3DOT Recordings, and having worked with them for several releases, I think their most varied release to date. The band said this was the first time they were afforded the chance to spend a full year writing, demoing and recording which shines through in the finished album.
Animal Drive – Back To The Roots EP
Animal Drive is a Croatian hard rock band that has been gaining notoriety on the world stage these last few years. Much like Halestorm does in between new album releases, Animal Drive has decided to pay tribute to some tracks that have influenced them, the EP is full of covers from Warrant, Skid Row, Whitesnake and Roxette.
Palehorse – Palehorse
I’ve only been able to hear the track featured below, but it really caught me off guard, and grabbed me right away. Initially is sounds like the band has been drinking from the well of Josh Homme, the track begins sounding like Kyuss, and morphs quickly into Queens Of The Stone Age, before the vocals kick in and are a mix of guttural vocals with the melodies you’ve come to know from a band like Baroness. New music doesn’t suck, it’s usually the people that aren’t willing to dive in and find something that’s new to them, in my case, Palehorse.
Andy Black – The Ghost Of Ohio
The Black Veil Brides lead singer returns with his second solo album, which like the first one, is a complete departure from BVB. The album is a mix of rock, pop, and some gothic influences sprinkled in. Whether BVB continues or not, Andy at least has another viable avenue to travel, he has smoothly pulled off doing double duty without a huge amount of negative waves from his fans, quite the opposite, most have followed him along for the journey. If you’re a fan of The Shadow Side, you’ll probably enjoy this as well.
Felix Martin – Caracas
The Venezuelan guitarist is best known for his 16 string double neck guitar, his latest album, named after the capital of his native country, is his take on a series of Venezuelan songs which he has converted into progressive metal.
Big Business – The Beast You Are
This duo is made up of Jared Warren and Coady Willis both of the Melvins. The band has been around for fifteen years, The Beast You Are markes their sixth full length studio album, their first since 2016’s Command Your Weather.
Allegaeon – Apoptosis
This is the band’s fifth full-length album, their first sine 2016’s Proponent For Sentience. It also marks the first album with new bassist Brandon Michael, after the departure of longtime bassist Corey Archuleta. One thing is certain, Allegaeon always deliver the goods, the album is dripping with everything you’ve come to love from this band, ridiculously technical drumming, well thought out tight guitar, and bass, with the signature guttural vocals the band has had on all of their albums, mixed in with some sparse clean vocals. The band has always been at the forefront of the technical melodic death metal scene, and this album will further cement their stranglehold at the top.
Grand Magus – Wolf God
The Swedish band has been around for twenty years, forming in 1999, and releasing their first demo a year later. They never been scared to fly the heavy metal flag, you hear the name Grand Magus, and you can always count on hearing heavy, punishing, and unadulterated metal, whether it’s in the classic metal sense or flat out doom metal, they always seem to deliver. This is their ninth album, and follows the trend of the last few where they’re straying a little more from the doom metal they initially played, and although some butthurt purists may not appreciate it, this album still offers some pretty cool tracks. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s perfect start to finish, but tracks like “Brothers Of The Storm” and the title track “Wolf God” easily make my Grand Magus playlist.
Jordan Rudess – Wired For Madness
Jordan has done so many things over the years, aside from being part of Dream Theater for the last two decades, joining the band during 1999’s Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, he’s put out a bunch of solo albums, he has developed his own keyboard apps, instructional books, and online courses. His latest solo album sees him handle not only the keyboards, but some vocals as well. The album has a few guests, whose names you may recognize, his Dream Theater bandmates James LaBrie and John Petrucci, as well as some other players like Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, and Joe Bonamassa, none of which are slouches. If you’re looking to get your prog rock/metal fix, this might be the album for you, as it does not stray that far from his day job. Given Dream Theater’s die-hard audience, it would be no surprise to me that a good majority of the fan base already has picked up this album.
The Damned Things – High Crimes
The band is made of member of the bands Anthrax, Every Time I Die, Alkaline Trio, and Fall Out Boy. The first album sounded more radio friendly modern rock to me, instead of the sum of their parts, which is what I had hoped for. But hey, there are plenty of people out there that loved their first album, and this new album seems to be getting great reviews as well, so what do I know? Maybe the masses aren’t wrong, and I’m not saying this album sucks by any means, it’s just that it follows a somewhat safe approach, and when ever a project like this comes together, more times than not it leaves me wanting for something else.
Danko Jones – A Rock Supreme
This is the band’s ninth studio album, and let’s be honest here, if you pick up a Danko album, you know exactly what to expect. Sure he’s dueted with Volbeat, and former Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow in the past, but this is straight ahead rock n roll, they aren’t swerving anyone. If you’re a fan of the band, and have everything they’ve released, this will be right up your alley.
Enforcer – Zenith
The Swedish band is about to release their fifth album Zenith. They’re releasing the album in Spanish and in English, something I haven’t seen done since David Lee Roth’s Eat Em And Smileand Sonrisa Salvaje, which translates into Savage Smile. They have always been lumped into the group of retro-NWOBHM, 80s retro-core, or however you want to call it, you know, bands that have sprung up these the last fifteen years or so that follow the blueprint that bands like Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, and Witchfinder General originally designed in the late 70s/early 80s. I have been reading mixed reviews about the album, everything from it being exactly what they expected from the band, to there not being enough of riffage and harmonies the band has offered in the past. I have enjoyed what I’ve heard leading up to the release of the album, but I can’t say that I’ve been into them as I have been other bands have been grouped in with them, and offer similar types of metal. So perhaps I’m not as critical with them as I would be of others.
Amon Amarth – Berserker
The Swedish band returns with their eleventh album, their first since the critically acclaimed, and highly successful 2016’s Jomsviking. Let’s be honest, if you’re an Amon Amarth fan, you’re probably going to love this album, because guess what, it sounds like Amon Amarth. Heavy riffs, pummeling drum pyrotechnics, and ferocious yet melodic guttural vocals have all been a staples in what the band offers. Berserker is no different, given the success of Jomsviking, you’d be hard pressed to think the band could outdo themselves, but they seem to have done just that.
Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason
I was introduced to the band in the early 90s while at college radio by my Galaxy Of Geeks co-host Chris Vaglio. I had never heard anything like them before, Ramones were one of my favorite bands at the time, as was Kiss, Maiden, Sabbath, etc. But their melodies and harmonies, combined with their lyrics grabbed me right away. Sure I had heard things like The Clash, R.E.M., or any other band that would meander, and blur the lines between the protest music being offered by alternative and indie rock, as well as metal, which probably doesn’t get enough credit for being anti-establishment, back then. Go back and check out lyrics by Metallica, and Megadeth regarding the dischord, and discontent with leaders, government, and society. They struck a chord, and helped a lot of like minded people band together. Bad Religion has always done this, but in their own signature way, mixing pop sensibilities, with straight ahead punk in most cases, and a message for the disenchanted that may be there was actually hope. They’re always trying to get a point across, regardless if they have the government, church, or whatever in their cross hairs. Again, if you’re fan of the band, you will probably not be disappointed.
The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men
The band returns with their first album in ten years, and it’s already being touted as being among the band’s best. Although a lot of people don’t know who they are, those that do either love them or hate them. And when I say love them, it’s usually at a toxic level, they have some seriously hard core fans. And they know this, if you take a look at the crowdfunding projects both Ginger and CJ Wildheart have released in the aforementioned ten year gap, they have gone above and beyond what 99.9% of the other bands have done, to ensure that their fan base is properly serviced. They have released unique items, and stayed true to their word, to not release elsewhere. The album features the return of what most classify as their classic lineup, which features both of the members mentioned above, plus Ritch Battersby and Danny McCormack. I’ve yet to read a bad review about the album, and that speaks volumes, but again, that speaks to the level of fandom this band has.
Whitesnake – Flesh & Blood
I’ll admit that I’m more of a fan of the Whitesnake albums John Sykes played on more than any others, and I’ve never considered myself a huge fan at all. For my money, David Coverdale’s best work has Glenn Hughes doubling his vocals in Deep Purple. I’ve never been a huge fan of his voice. But once that second album with Skyes dropped, call it 1987 or call it Whitesnake, it was huge, and the band skyrocketed all around the world. It became the David Coverdale band, and not just that other band besides Rainbow that fragmented from Deep Purple. My opinion aside, he’s always found great players to write music with. He may not be the greatest lyricist, but checks off all of the right boxes for his fans, and knowing how to pick out great players, great songs, great melodies, etc. is as important as being a great singer/front man. For years people have been saying his voice is shot, but they’re still doing gangbusters when out on tour. What I’ve mentioned above is opinion, my opinion, and in this day and age people mix opinion with fact, and the fact of the matter is Whitesnake is alive and well. Will this album take over as your favorite by the band? Probably not, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t like it all the same. As I state above, David Coverdale knows how to check off all the right boxes, as much as someone like Tommy Lee doesn’t like being compared to this band, Whitesnake has never done anything to alienate their fanbase. Has that sold them as much albums as Motley Crue? Nope, but at least they haven’t tried following every trend that’s popped up along the way. Listen to a song like “Shut Up & Kiss Me”, and it sounds like Whitesnake, and it sounds modern, a mix of the best of both worlds. It doesn’t sound like Whitesnake trying to do Imagine Dragon or Disturbed, and it doesn’t sound like a blatant rip off of a chart topping song like “Still Of The Night”. Even the video for the track is a nod back to their heyday with the women and the Jaguar, but modernized to feature all types of women, not just the supermodel/actress featured in most late 80s videos.
Arch/Matheos – Winter Ethereal
I wrote a little be about this album a week ago, since then I have been able to listen to most of Winter Ethereal, and love it, as in end of year list love. As I mentioned previously, I can’t consider myself a huge progressive metal guy, although there are things within prog that I enjoy. Thanks to last week’s new releases list I started to listen to Tunisian band Myrath, and have listened to little else since, they are a progressive metal band that mixes in aspects of Arabic music. This album is one of the exceptions, where Sympathetic Resonance was great, and was full on progressive metal, this is really an amalgam of what Jon Arch and Jim Matheos where originally known for, a mix between Priest and Maiden, and how Fates Warning ended up evolving into a progressive metal juggernaut. The album is much more diverse, and presents you with several styles of metal for you to digest along the way, making it more than just some celebrated musicians releasing a paint by numbers album. The shortest song is the great “Straight And Narrow” that clocks in at 4:20, with the longest being “Kindred Spirits” which is 13:01. But, the album is composed in such a way that no song feels long and dragged out, it’s a musical journey with several landscapes that keep you entertained, and don’t feel like you have to skip to the next song because there is just an over the top amount of of self absorbed soloing.
Spin Adrift – Divided By Darkness
We’ll chalk this up to the “new to me” category, as this is actually the band’s third album. The band is labeled as a doom band, and their imagery is totally Sabbath influenced, but they honestly sound like a band that listened to NWOBHM bands like Diamond Head, and Witchfinder General, mixed with some Randy Rhodes era Ozzy, and Ride The Lightning era Metallica. The song structures and production really remind me of that time period in the 80s. But the band does more than just copy that celebrated period of music, as they infuse some memorable melodies over top of heavy crunching riffs. If you’re looking to check out a band that sounds old school, and is trying to seperate themselves from the pack, this may be the band for you.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle – Space Between
I have to tell you, two of the most drab bands I’ve listened to over the last decade are the supergroups Chickenfoot and Black Country Communion. Both bands have a ton of potential given the players, and while I was waiting for either band to present me with knock out out of your socks moments, it’s been pretty vanilla, and boring for both, at least for me. I have always been a huge fan of Jason Bonham’s from his band Bonham to Motherland, he seemed to be more than just a Bonzo clone, but somewhere along the way it seems like he stopped fighting, stopped resisting, and just fell into that clone category. I get it, it’s hard to escape the groundwork his father laid, but man, John Bonham played more than one pattern, and most of his clones pick something like “Kashmire” and never deviate all that much from what he played during that song. I’ve been very vocal about how I thought California Breed was a much better project than BCC, mostly because Andrew Watt laid down some absolutely bombastic guitar licks, and both Glenn Hughes, and Jason Bonham were on top of their game. When I heard Jason left the band to go play covers with Sammy Hagar, I thought what is he doing? Oh he’s going to play Montrose, and Zeppelin covers with Sammy, great, what a waste. He’s obviously entitled to do what he wants, and may be this is me thinking he’s got so much more to offer, than being anyone’s clone, or just a drummer in a bunch of cover bands. Again, his prerogative, but nothing I’ve heard off of this album excites me, Vic Johnson does some pretty cool solos, but the songs just feel like leftover pieces that have been pieced together, case in point “Trust Fund Baby”. Finally a different drum pattern by Jason, and a really cool riff, but then the melodies, and structure are just odd. Seems like it’s a bunch of ideas they found on pro-tools, and just kind of slapped them together. People ask why rock doesn’t hit a nerve with a lot of kids, and it’s because of music like this. A bunch of grandpas just mailing it in, Montrose was dangerous, Van Halen was groundbreaking, Soundbarrier fought against stereotypes, and showed that they could be as metal as anyone else. This is a bunch of guys living off of their past, and showing exactly why rock has lost ground. They’re no longer hungry, no longer want to prove a point, it’s just eh, ok, we’ll make a record, feels like they’ve conformed, and are now the suits behind the desk smoking the cigars and counting the money. And why is this Sammy Hagar & The Circle? Michael Anthony has broken more ground as a bass player, backup singer, and showman than anyone else in this band. They aren’t selling tees in Hot Topic, or looking to get fans of Vampire Weekend into them, they’re playing to a hardcore audience, mostly Van Halen/Van Hagar fans, so why is Sammy’s name in lights? Is it a wealth thing that because Sammy has made more money out of them, but that mostly has to do with his deals outside of music. I’m sure there are people that will disagree with me, and there are people that will dig this, and that’s cool, this is just my opinion but I want to be excited, and entertained, and this does neither.
Rammstein – Rammstein
This is the band’s first album in ten years, and as usual, people are going apeshit over the band and the album. They put on a great show, don’t consistently tour the States, although they do tour Europe quite frequently, and have garnered massive attention in the US even though lead singer Till Lindemann sing in German, something that 99.9% of non-English singing bands can not do. Not only are the fans going ape shit over the album, but critics are as well, so they seem to have delivered on every level. Anothing thing you have to heap praise on them for is the ability to be away for the number of years they haven’t released new material, or done shows, and still have fans wanting more. Tool, you’re next!
Saint Vitus – Saint Vitus
The Doom Metal titans have returned, their first new album since 2012’s Lillie F-65, and only their second album since 1995’s Die Healing. The reviews of the album have not been great, most of the time when a major component of a band is missing, you end up splitting the fan base split, in this case Wino. You usually have things said like “I can’t get into them without Wino” or “not as good without him”, but it seems like the vast majority of both fan comments, and reviews I’ve read are the same, folks are generally trying to get into the album. But I’m reading things like, “I’m trying to like this, but it seems like they’ve run out of ideas”. So people are making an effort, but it’s just falling flat for them. The one overall consensus is that Die Healing was great, and at least people can go back to that.
Savage Messiah – Demons
I had the pleasure of meeting the band years ago when they were part of Killfest in Europe, playing a bill that featured Kripper, Suicidal Angels, and Overkill. While they were originally grouped into the whole “retro-thrash” label, the band has evolved little by little, going for a more classic heavy metal approach on certain things, and as can be heard in the video below for “The Bitter Truth” they add elements of modern metal, and offer up music that I think people have been missing from some of their counterparts that have decided to go in a much more commercial direction. I do want to note that lead singer/guitarist Dave Silver is the first person I ever spoke to about streaming, we chatted a bit at their merch booth after the show. He foresaw teens gravitating towards YouTube instead of downloading from Torrent sites, or even subscribing to services like Spotify. At the time he said something to the effect of “if I was a kid, why would I subscribe to a service, when I can make a playlist on YouTube, and add all of the songs I want to hear without having to pay, or download them?”. He wasn’t wrong.
Amulet – The Inevitable War
Here is a band I just discovered recently, they fall under the “new to me” category, most people classify them as disciples of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. What I like is that their single “Burning Hammer”, it not only makes references to a professional wrestling, but it also starts out atypically, with some 80s influenced syths ala Stranger Things, that ok, you could see someone like Rick Wakeman adding to a Sabbath album, but to Maiden? The album mixes old school Martin Birch type production, with new school elements. The music is great, and checks off all of the boxes if you’re into any of the bands listed above, with harmories, and singable choruses that will do well live.
Paladin – Ascension
This is another band that I listened to for the first time while putting this new releases post together. They remind me of Holy Grail, but with more of an old school feel. Where Holy Grail has always been influenced by the Maidens and Priests of the world, they’ve also added thrash to what they offer, and have always used modern production techniques to make their music sound current. Regardless if what their playing is influenced by various forms of classic metal that was popular three decades ago. Paladin is influenced by those same bands, but Ascension unabashedly sounds as if it came out sometime between 83 and 86. Much like Amulet, if you’re into Maiden, Priest, Megadeth, early Metallica, this album might be fore you.
Beasto Blanco – We Are
The band is mostly known for being Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric’s side project, for those paying attention, they know that Chuck is the lead singer/guitarist of the band, he splits vocals with Calico Cooper, Alice’s daughter. Rounding out the band are the extremely talented guitarist Brother Latham, bassist Jan LeGrow, and drummer Sean Sellers. We Are is the band’s third studio album, their first in three years, and although it isn’t reinventing the wheel, it’s definitely entertaining. Check out the video for “The Seeker” below, it definitely harkens back to an era where releasing interesting videos to sell an album was the thing to do.
Diamond Head – The Coffin Train
Most metal fans know about how this band influenced both Metallica and Megadeth (among others), and although they’ve never come close to the popularity of either of those two bands, metal fans have always had a soft spot for them. Maybe not as prolific as Saxon, but I would group Diamond Head in a similar fashion, both NWOBHM bands, and when both are on, they’re great, but in between there is a lot of medicare material that just has never grabbed me as much as their bigger anthems. “Death By Design” is a great lead-off song for the album, the perfect way to get the engines revving before the release of the album. The song caught me off guard, because I was expecting the same old, same old paint by numbers Diamond Head, but song has everything you want, a really cool riff, great soaring vocals, built overtop of a solid rhythmic foundation. The track “Belly Of The Beast” is equally as good, it really showcases vocalist Rasmus Born Andersen ferocious vocal talent, along with Brian Tatler’s guitar mastery. For the first time, in a long time I’m excited about a new Saxon album.
Destrage – The Chosen One
The Italian band first came to my attention a few years back, and instantly grabbed me. What I think is cool about the band is they mix a lot of old school ellements, like old school thrash riffs, cool melodic chorus that remind you of classic 80s heavy metal, yet they detune, and use a lot of modern production. Kind of giving you the best of the old, and the best of the new at the same time. This is their fifth album, their first since 2016’s A Means To No End.
Adrenaline – Adrenaline EP
I got to check this EP out earlier this week, their label had sent me a promo for the album, and it was listed as a Hardcore band from Baltimore. Although I enjoy Hardcore, it usually isn’t a go to for me. I also tend to list the EP below, unless something really stands out to me. That said, this EP grabbed me right away, they remind me of two New York bands mixed together, Helmet and Quicksand. If you’re a fan of either, check this EP out.
Death Angel – Humanicide
This is a band that hardly ever lets you down, even their “weaker” material is stronger than most other thrash bands at their best. They’ve consistently put out quality material over the years, and have either headlined or been part of packages with big name bands with good reason. Whether the band is delivering songs that could be classified by some as speed metal, mid-tempo scorchers like “The Pack”, or when they decide to go out of pocket with a classic like “A Room With A View”, regardless what they do, they always seem to find a way to make it great, and worth your while.
D-A-D – A Prayer For The Loud
Here is a band that I’ve known of for years, thanks to the old “Sleeping My Day Away” video, which I remember seeing debut on Headbangers Ball. But I’ve never really kept track of them, when I received the promo for the album about a two weeks ago, I threw it on and figured something to listen to while I work on a few things. And man, did the album blow me away, it’s a great rock album start to finish, with little to no filler at all. This album makes me want to go back and check out their back catalog.
Duff McKagan – Tenderness
Duff has really been a chameleon over the years, yes we know him for GNR, Velvet Revolver, and various other projects, but there all more or less hard rock or punk based. Tenderness is more of a rock based album, with a lot of acoustic guitar, piano, brushes on the drums, kind of similar to mellower 70s Rolling Stones. The kind of music you’d probably expect from former Guns N Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, not Duff. But it is definitely cool to hear him vear off in another direction, which some may say is unexpected, but it’s still one of the many ingredients that make him such a legendary artist.
Last Crack – The Up Rising
Here’s an album I’ve been waiting for, for a long time, three decades to be exact! Last Crack was a band I came across in the early 90s while working in collage radio. If you recall, former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison put together a list of the best albums to ever be released on Roadrunner Records, he listed the band’s second album Burning Time on that list. The band is that good, I’ve had people goof on the name, until they hear the music, and 9 times out of 10 are instantly hooked.
Janet Gardner – Your Place In The Sun
I’ve never been a fan of Vixen, I respect what they’ve done, but they never really grabbed me. So a few years back when Gardner released her first, self-titled solo album I kind of begrudgingly checked it out. Boy was I surprised, the album was a lot less pop-metal, and more Black Label Society. Still hard rock, but way heavier than I expected. That album saw her team up with her husband, who’s worked with Staind, Collective Soul, and Tyketto in the past. This follow up album continues the groundwork the couple laid with the first album. The song “Your Place In The Sun” is a hybrid between a riff reminiscent of “Still Of The Night”, but heavier, and “Crazy Train” for lack of a better comparison, with Janet’s soaring vocals featured over top of an extremely catchy chorus.
The Rods – Brotherhood Of Metal
This is an unabashed heavy metal band, you either love them or you don’t. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, and have been serving up their brand of metal for years. So to quote their drummer Carl Caneday “if you like the first song, then odds are you’ll like the whole album”. The Cortland, NY band has been around for almost 40 years, with this being their tenth release.
Perry Farrell – Kind Heaven
I like a good hook like the next guy, and man, I can’t get the song “Machine Girl” out of my head, just something about the melody and chorus that are stuck in my head. This is Farrell’s first solo album in 18 years, and features Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, Elliot Easton of the Cars, and George Harrison’s son, the uber talented Dhani Harrison.
Warrior Soul – Rock N Roll Disease
The New York band is one of my all time favorites, I have everything they’ve released, some releases on CD, Cassette and Vinyl! Unfortunately, this release isn’t very good, and that really bums me out. I’ve listened to it several times today in an effort to give it a fair shake, but “After The Show” is the only song that remotely catches me. The album feels very disjointed, the production isn’t great, the drums don’t sound good, and the timing is off in places, while Kory’s voice just isn’t very good on some of the songs, and that really breaks my heart. I won’t give up on them, but had hoped for something better from the band.
Motionless In White – Disguise
The Scranton, PA band is back with their fifth album. The band has found a niche between modern hard rock, industrial metal and metalcore. If you’ve never heard of them, or given them a chance, they’re equal parts Korn, Marilyn Manson, and Killswitch Engage. A really cool mix between late 90s/early 2000s metal with what’s going on today. They seem to up their game with each release, and if you’re a fan of their previous releases, this album will not disappoint.
Combichrist – One Fire
I’ve known about Combichrist for years, One Fire is their ninth album, and features guest vocals from Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell. If you’re into industrial metal give this album a shot, they always seem to have a few cool songs on each of their releases.
Eagles Of Death Metal – Eagles Of Death Metal Presents Boots Electric Performing The Best Songs We Never Wrote
I’ve been a fan of Eagles Of Death Metal for years, and their music has usually been hit or miss for me. Many of their songs are either featured on my phone’s playlists, and are played fairly frequently. This is a covers album, I don’t usually feature them on the top half of the page, but I dig what they’ve done with the Kiss classic, so here it is.
Baroness – Gold & Grey
The band has had one constant, John Baizley, who aside from being a renowned graphic artist, is the focal piece of Baroness. Every album has had a different lineup, this one includes the first recording with Gina Gleason who can shred and sing, and helps evolve the band further. Each Baroness album’s title has been a color(s), but each one has been a little different, as Baizley has continued to push his work forward. Some fans have loved the progression, but others have seen this as a softening of the band’s sound as they’ve veered away from their sludge metal beginnings, and transitioned more into a classic heavy metal band in the vein of a Thin Lizzy (something most of the hipster sites seem to be ignoring). If you’re into the band, you’ll probably enjoy this album, if you’re new to them, and love classic 70s hard rock and metal, do yourself a favor and explore their catalogue, you won’t be disappointed.
Sweet Oblivion – Sweet Oblivion
Touted by many as Geoff Tate’s best release since Queensryche’s Empire. The project was presented to Tate by his label Frontiers, after Italian prog metal musician Simone Mularoni, best known for his work with DGM, put the musicians together and composed the music. As Mularoni put it, he was heavily influenced by Queensryche, and wanted to do something that harkened back to albums like Rage For Order, Empire and Operation Mindcrime. This is Tate returning to a sound that garnered him a hardcore audience, which has been pining for more of a nostalgic release by the singer. So if you’re one of those fans, you’ll be extremely happy with this release.
Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – Return To Eden
It has taken Timo several years to release this album, it is a star studded outing that features the likes of Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), Zak Stevens (ex-Savatage), Todd Michael Hall (Riot V), Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania, Ardours), and Eduard Hovinga (ex-Elegy). If you’re a prog metal fan, you understand the importance of what Timo has done in the past with Stratovarius, and other projects including Avalon. If you’re a fan of his work, or remotely enjoy prog metal, you’ll probably love this album.
The Hollywood Vampires – Rise
When news came out that Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp where getting together for a project, people thought it was a one off that would be blown off by many, including the members of the band. What people didn’t expect is that the first album, made up of covers would actually be really good. The second album is made up mostly of original material and sees all three of the aforementioned members of the band take turns singing lead. The material does not suffer, and the album is arguably better than the first going beyond a Hollywood gimik, to actually going further to prove their some of Hollywood’s greatest rock stars!
Gygax – High Fantasy
Eric Harris is back with his third album after burying Gypsyhawk. For those that don’t understand the band because they were expecting some schlocky power metal that just recited cliched D&D related lyrics, please look elsewhere, or get your information straight before discussing the band. You can’t absolutely love Baroness’ Gold & Grey, and say how much they sound like Mastodon, when Mastodon, Baroness and Gygax all borrow heavily from Thin Lizzy. If you’re a fan of Harris’ work in both Gygax and Gypsyhawk, you’ll no doubt dig this album.
Kryptos – Afterburner
Here’s a band that falls under the new to me flag, they where formed in 1998 in India, and Afterburner is their fifth album. The band isn’t reinventing the wheel here, Nolan Lewis’ are reminiscent of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, while the music sounds like a mix between the aforementioned Teutonic titans, and Megadeth.
Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown – Truth and Lies
I was introduced to this Nashville band when their 2017 self-titled album was released. The album really caught my attention as it married old school hard rock, melodies, and modern sounding sensibilities. Some bands try and mix the old with the new, and it just doesn’t come off right, but this band seem to be able to fuse both together without a problem. Truth And Lies is a natural progression by the band, as they kick things up a notch. When people bring up the “rock is not dead” argument, Tyler Bryant And The Shakedown should be part of the conversation.
Bloody Hammers – The Summoning
This is the fifth album from the duo, if you have no idea what they’re about, they mix several types of rock and metal, and infuse it with horror themes. Think the b-movie horror motif similar to the Misfits with their lyrics, mixed with Ghost’s melodies and Kyuss as a musical backdrop. Their videos are a nod to all of those campy horror flicks that generations of fans have loved, with their music layered overtop. If you remotely like classic horror flicks and are into any of the bands I’ve named, check them out.
He Is Legend – White Bat
This band is the definition of a chameleon, they started out as a metalcore band and have played essentially every form of rock and metal since. And it isn’t as if they have just taken a stab at trying something, they have always excelled and kicked ass when taking each fork in the road. White Bat is their sixth studio album, and they seemed to have spent an extra amount of time pulling the best pieces from everything that they’ve done over the years, and forged it into this release. There are very few low spots if any on the album, and will please any fan of the band, or hook any new listener that is willing to give it a spin.
David Ellefson – Sleeping Giants
This marks the first solo project by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. This album is being released in conjunction with his new book More Life With Deth, and is full of guest appearances, former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, John Bush of Armored Saint and Anthrax Fame, Bumblefoot, Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge, David Glen Eisley, Hodor from Game Of Thrones, and a bunch more.
3Teeth – Metawar
This is a politically charged industrial metal band that is a hybrid between modern music, and the heyday of 90s industrial metal, where bands like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Orgy and even Korn took up the airwaves. The reason I bring up these bands is because it seems as if each of them have influenced the band in one way or another. They’re out on tour with Ministry, which is a killer bill if you’re into this sort of music.
Abbath – Outstrider
I’m not the hugest black metal fan, but something about Immortal, and Abbath for that matter that has always drawn me to their music. May be it has to do with Abbath being a fan of things like Kiss, Motorhead, Priest and Maiden which shine through at times in the composition of this music, but there is always something to like on his releases. For those that thought his self titled debut was a fluke, guess again, Outstrider picks up where that album left off, and continues to cement his legacy as a black metal giant.
Squares – Squares
Before there was a Joe Satriani EP, or Not Of This Earth, there was Squares, it was a band that Satriani had formed in the late 70s, that mashed up hard rock, and new wave. Think Missing Persons with a male singer, and a harder edge, or a heavier version of The Police even. Satch has millions of fans and guitarists that he’s influenced all over the world, and this is a look back into what he did early on. If you’re looking for his signature sound that he developed over the years, well you’ll find his playing, but it isn’t as unhinged as what you’ve come to know from his solo work. This is more subdued because it needs to work within the framework of a band. This is a must have for any fan of Satriani’s work.
Billy Sherwood – Citizen: In The Next Life
The Yes bassist is back with his second album in the Citizen series, the first since 2015. For those that don’t know, he was handpicked by the legendary Chris Squire as his replacement, and has been in and out of Yes, and bands that contain members of Yes family tree for years. To be selected by one of the most important rock bass players of all time is nothing to sneeze at. If you know Billy, or are a big prog rock fan, this should be right up your alley.
Torche – Admission
Torche is a band that fifteen years ago was grouped in with Stoner bands like The Sword, and has continuously evolved over the years. Case in point, check out the video for the track “Admission” that sounds more like a mix between Helmet, CKY, and The Psychedelic Furs, then anything that remotely sounds like Sabbath. Although they may not have received the same press as some other bands that came out at around the same time, Torche has continued to do things their way, further cementing their legacy as a great band.
David Ellefson – Sleeping Giants US Release
This marks the first solo project by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. This album is being released in conjunction with his new book More Life With Deth, and is full of guest appearances, former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, John Bush of Armored Saint and Anthrax Fame, Bumblefoot, Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge, David Glen Eisley, Hodor from Game Of Thrones, and a bunch more.
Sabaton – The Great War
The Swedish band is celebrating their twentieth anniversary, this is their ninth album, and if you’re a fan of theirs, well you know exactly what to expect. The band has seldomly veered from their modus operandi, giving fans as good serving of battle influenced lyrics tied into heavy metal that is influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden, and Helloween. I’m assuming that most metal fans know of the band, and if they’re remotely a fan of the band, or this style of music, will pick the album up.
Flaw – Vol IV: Because Of The Brave
The Louisville, Kentucky band has been around for over two decades, and has always worn their influences on their sleeves, being an amalgam of bands like Korn, Tool, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, thus being grouped in with genres like Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, and flat out Hard Rock. The prevalent theme on the album is honoring the sacrifice of US Servicemen and Women, hence the albums title. If you’re a fan of the band it will be a no-brainer to pick this album up.
Scott Stapp – The Space Between The Shadows
I’ll admit that I’m a fan of Creed’s heavier songs, they became a punching bag for rock music fans, thanks to them being on the radio all the damn time. Not their fault exactly, name a band that wouldn’t want to make tons of money off of their music. What I don’t understand is how his former bandmates in Alter Bridge get a pass from most fans, or distance themselves so as to not get caught up in the Creed undertow. Sure, Scott has battled his own demons over the years, and hasn’t helped his cause at times, but this album seems to be his rise from the ashes. One could argue that this is his strongest material since Creed, and possibly among the strongest albums he’s worked on. If you’re into the heavier side of modern rock, this might be worth checking out for you.
Sum 41 – Order In Decline
I actually have everything this band has released, I am a big fan of their first few albums. They, in my opinion, have influenced a ton of over bands over the years, I’ll even go as far as to say that my dislike for the Dee Snider album We Are The Ones is because it’s Dee trying to be Sum 41, not Dee Snider. For the record For The Love Of Metal kicks ass! This is Sum 41’s seventh album, it was produced by guitarist/lead vocalist Deryck Whibley, and is what many are claiming to be their rawest, and heaviest album to date.
Hatriot – From Days Unto Darkness
The first Hatriot album was released around the time Steve “Zetro” Souza rejoined Exodus. For those that know nothing of the band, it originally consisted of Zetro on vocals, with his sons Cody on bass, and Nick on drums. On the second album, From Days Unto Darkness, Cody takes over on vocals, and I have to tell you, you’d never know Zetro was gone, the apple truly does not fall far from the tree. Cody is almost a carbon copy of his dad on the mic. If you’re looking for newer band doing for an old school thrash approach, this is the album for you.
Lacrimas Profundere – Bleeding The Stars
The German band has always been seen by its followers as one of the premier goth rock/metal bands. Although some feel that the band had lost its path with Hope Is Here, the consensus seems to be that their twelfth album Bleeding The Stars sees the band back on course, going back to their origins, and giving you a blend of doom, death, and the atmospheric goth rock and metal that made people fall in love with the band to begin with. Recommended to anyone that misses His Infernal Majesty, as the band shares similar elements in their music, whether purists want to admit to that or not.
Death Before Dishonor – Unfinished Business
Perfect name for an album, as the band’s last album was released ten years ago. The album mixes the old with the new, let’s be honest, very few hardcore bands are reinventing the wheel in 2019, but Death Before Dishonor mixes influences from the 80s NYHC scene, and themes are that are taken from current day headlines. The outcome is a snarling, pissed off approach, with crushing grooves, in other words, what most have come to love about any great hardcore band.
Thy Art Is Murder – Human Target
Arguably the biggest metal band, of the “core” era, to ever come out of Australia, Thy Art Is Murder has been demolishing eardrums and stages for close to 15 years. The biggest knock on the album is that it’s more of the same. Although the band has been around for a decade and a half, it seems as if they haven’t evolved as much as others in the genre, or metal bands in general that have been around for the same time period.
Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound
I have to admit I was a huge fan of Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, as well as Beyond Hell Above Heaven, but the band totally lost me with their following two releases, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, and Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. In my opinion they lost their bite, while pursuing a more radio friendly approach. Totally their prerogative, and I get it, they were trying to sell more albums. Most bands will tell you they would do anything to make a living off of their art, and not have to struggle like 99.9% of the bands out there, but tracks like “Cape Of Our Hero” and “Lola Montez” just turned me off to the album. Sorry, just my opinion. The follow up had a few decent tracks on it, but nowhere near as good, in my opinion, as their earlier releases. Now I keep stressing the word opinion, because what I am posting is my, Victor M. Ruiz’s opinion. It isn’t Mark Stigl’s or anyone else loosely associated with Talking Rock.net. And to have a band or their supporting cast go after a publication, web site or podcast because they don’t like an album or a performance is a bunch of horseshit. Sorry, I don’t have to like everything a band releases, and that band does not have to share the same opinion as me when it comes to music either. If a band thinks that they’ve never had a misstep, well they either have a huge ego, or a ton of yes men around them. Very few bands over the years have not release a shitty track or two. In any event, there is enough good music out there that if you don’t like something, just change the dial, change the track, find something you do like. If someone doesn’t agree with you, so be it, move on. I’ve heard some good tracks off of this album, and I’ve heard others I don’t care for. I know the aforementioned “Lola Montez” is a huge hit that a lot of people love, and the band will continue to have a huge fan base. The album will no doubt be a big seller, and my comments are in no way shape or form made to dissuade anyone from checking this album out, quite the opposite, I encourage people to do so, and form their own opinion. As what I post is just that, MY opinion, which is neither right or wrong, just my preference. What got me into the band was them channeling, Misfits, Metallica, and bands like Social Distortion, the track “Pelvis On Fire” reminds me of this, other tracks I’ve heard off of the album, well not so much.
John 5 And The Creatures – Invasion
John 5 is a creative genius, whether it’s music, album covers, graphic design, his look, his videos, etc. You can always expect something entertaining, and different from him. His albums are never about just guitar pyrotechnics, you can listen to other “guitar heros” and hear them soloing for what 45 minutes non-stop, but the rest of the track is shit. Never the case with John 5, whether its chicken picking, blues, flamenco, hard rock or metal, his albums are very diverse, completely fleshed out, and just entertaining. If you love his work, well then you’ll need this for your collection, if you’ve never heard of him beyond his work with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, David Lee Roth or zoinks K.D. Lang, this may be a good introduction to his solo work. Check out his Scooby Doo inspired video here, hence the zoinks!
Satan’s Taint – Destruction Ritual
Who? Remember Bobby Gustafson of Overkill? Well he’s finally back, after years in the making, Destruction Ritual is finally here. He spoke to me about the band several years ago when recording an interview about his work with his former band. You can debate if Satan’s Taint is heavier than what he did in Overkill, it is certainly tuned differently, but it is also 2019, and not the 80s or early 90s. His early work would probably sound like this if it came out today, his playing is still just as tasty as ever, just the right amount of notes to stand out, without having to be all over the fretboard. Would recommend to anyone that is remotely a fan of his previous work.
Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
This is the band’s sixth studio album, their first in four years, since .5: The Gray Chapter. The odd thing here is that they released a song called “We Are Not Your Kind” a few months back, which you would think would be the title track off of the album, but much like Dokken did with the track Back For The Attack, which was on the Dream Warriors single, it never made it on to the album until it was re-released years later. In any event, the band has released three singles before the release of the new album, and all of them have sounded cool to me. The word that most critics seem to be throwing around for this album is experimental, but to me it seems to be a natural progression for the band. Although others may not have liked some of the more Pink Floydish moments of the last two albums, to me it has always been a band looking to grow within their confines. If you look back at their previous releases their isn’t a flat out clunker, although they have always evolved, they’ve never released a Lulu, where they’ve veered so far off course that you lose complete faith in them. This album is still Slipknot, and it still pushes things forward.
Spread Eagle – Subway To The Stars
The New York City “Street Metal” band returns with their first album since 1992’s Open To The Public. I have always been a fan of this band, still have their self-titled debut on Cassette, and have always played songs off of that and Open To The Public as well. Songs like “Suzy Suicide”, and “If I Can’t Have You” have always made it onto my iPods, phones, or mix CDs back in the day. I also have Ray West’s solo album, All Points West, his voice has always been unique to me, it just sounds different, and stands out from the pack. Definitely a band that made it onto the airwaves a few years too late to be huge, but at the same time, that kind of allowed them to do what they wanted, and not forced to have four slocky ballads per album, or at least is seems that way to me. In any event Subway To The Stars is a solid album top to bottom, I’ve been listening to it for roughly a month now, and am just happy to have new music from the band. From a musical standpoint this album is on par with their previous two albums, the vocals are slightly different, but still great. What I mean by different is you don’t have the screamy elements that you had on the first two, or some of the more intense moments find on tracks off of the first two releases. But then again West has never been a one trick pony, so it is cool to see him bust out yet another facet of his vocal prowess. And also, how many vocalists can maintain their voice exactly the same for 30 years? If you’re a fan of the band, you know you’re going to check this album out.
Roxy Blue – Roxy Blue
The Memphis band who will be performing at this weekend’s ROCKNPOD Expo returns with their first album of new material in close to thirty years. The album has heavier overtones than the original, obviously back in 92, bands like Warrant (Jani Lane helped them get their original record deal), Poison, and the such were all over the airwaves, right before stations started shunning these very bands. Call it bad timing, but it is what it is, the new album has songs like mix everything from 70s hard rock, to elements of what came after them in the 90s, to what made them a known entity to begin with. If You’re a fan, you’ll no doubt check this new album out.
Killswitch Engage – Atonement
The album marks the third release since the return of original lead singer Jesse Leach. It is coincidentally the first album where his replacement, Howard Jones, returns to the fold to lend his vocals on one of the band’s tracks. The album also features legendary Testament vocalist Chuck Billy. The band continues to put out solid albums, this album for my money is the best out of the ones they’ve released since the aforementioned Leach returned to the fold. They always manage to do their thing, and evolve slightly with each release without coming out as being overtly experimental. The track “I Am Broken Too” is among my favorite tracks to be released this year.
HammerFall – Dominion
This is the power metal giant’s tenth studio album, they have always been at the forefront of this metal sub-genre, and as a result have a huge following all over the world. Many of said fans will eat this album up, as I’ve come across many a blind followers over the years. But while other bands like Primal Fear have been able to convince me over the years, I listen this album and think their best tracks flat out borrow from Accept. Which, like many other bands that are grouped in with this kind of metal, makes me want to reach for Accept to cleanse the proverbial pallet per say.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
This is the second release by the Australian band this year, their fifteenth album over all. Which would be no big deal if they weren’t releasing albums like Kiss in the early 70s, putting out two releases or more in almost every year since 2012! 2017 saw them release four albums, which I guess made taking 2018 off a little easier. If that isn’t enough for you to see that this isn’t your run of the mill band, consider that this album was mostly recorded by three of the band’s seven man revolving lineup. They experiment, a lot, and that’s why you’ll see everything from psychedelic, stoner, progressive, thrash, and just plain heavy metal associate to them. What’s great about this album is no two songs sound similar, you’ll see reviews for the album where bands like Motorhead, or Voivod are mentioned, along with Metallica, Slayer, Overkill and others. This is definitely more of a thrasher album from the band, but they haven’t just painted themselves into a corner by regurgitating the same thing over and over again.
Sacred Reich – Awakening
One of the things that I absolutely hate hearing is “there is no good new music” or “music died after 1989”. Go chase a parked car, let me tell you if that’s what you actually think, than I’m sorry to say but you’ve missed out on a ton of great music that’s come out over the years. To all those people that say “90s metal sucked” well you didn’t check out Independent or Heal by Sacred Reich. Both albums are monsters, and further prove that metal was not dead, it was just ignoramuses that refused to search good new music out. When I initially received Awakening, I was hesitant to listen to it. I had checked out the two videos they released (posted about them on the site), plus checked out the song off of their recently released split called “Don’t Do It Donnie”. But so many bands get back together, put together a great track or two, and just give you c and d level versions of songs you love from their catalog. I am happy to say that is not the case here. Dave McClain is back after being lent out to Machine Head for over two decades (nudge nudge, wink, wink), and the band has brought in Joey Radziwill to replace Jason Rainey. The band has always known how to be themselves and take advantage of every recording situation, whether that’s working with Dave Jerden, or Arthur Rizk, who is a hot metal producer having worked with bands like Power Trip and Code Orange. The album sounds modern, but still steam rolls you like Sacred Reich always have. The album offers enough twists and turns to remind you of how great this band can be. Phil Rind’s unique voice, and lyrics coupled with Wiley’s signature soloing style reminds you of what the band has done in the past, while at the same time new elements are added to the music, and the album is recorded and mixed in such a way that makes this album sound fresh and new. This is a must get for anyone that was into the band in the day, this is end of year list material for me.
Crobot – Motherbrain
The Pottsville, Pennsylvania band is a lot of people’s response to the “rock is dead” argument. They have spent the last few years cultivating an audience, and even though their last album Welcome To Fat City had a much more Sabbath vibe to it, the video below “Low Life” takes on more of an STP approach to things. With this album, the band shows that it has has matured, and continues to evolve. If you’re looking for a new band to check, new to you that is, Crobot may be that band.
Helhorse – Hydra
The Danish band is back with their fourth album Hydra. The band is described as mixing several genres of rock based music, but to simplify things, let me just say this, they mix riffs that are thick and heavy as fuck, and melodies that are infectious as all hell. Sure to be stuck in your head on first listen. Loving this album so far.
New Model Army – From Here
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the band, but I’ve enjoyed their music over the years, the new track “Never Arriving” is off of their fifteenth album From Here. It was recorded on a remote island off the coast of Norway, which helped set the mood for the album. If you love the band, I’m sure you’ll pick this one up, if you’re new to the band, this might be a great gate way into their past catalog.
Vak – Loud Wind
This is the Swedish band’s second album, they put their career on hold due to an illness/medical emergency that one of the members of the band suffored. The band’s influences are everything from Tool to Radiohead, from Kate Bush to Mastodon, which on paper may not make sense to most, but once you hear them you’ll say “oh yeah, I get it”. May be not the most known of bands on the list, but something worth checking out nonetheless.
Tool – Fear Inoculum
The L.A. band’s last album came out thirteen years ago, fans have been clamoring for this release for some time, and we’ve all heard the rumores “well so and so isn’t ready”, or its coming out next week. But the album seemed like it was never coming out, leaving people wondering, if it’s really Maynard’s fault, why is he releasing music from his other projects, is the new Tool just not good enough? Let’s be honest, they have high standards to live up to, die hards will tell you that no matter what they release that it’s the best album ever released. So yeah, no pressure guys! I’ve known about Tool since Undertow came out, thanks to then label rep Kevin Estrada (you may know him for his photography), but at the time Opiate was reissued as “Sober” started getting played everywhere. He told me at the time “they’re the next biggest thing, they’re tearing it up in L.A.” I’ll admit, I liked both releases, but didn’t see it. Then the album that changed it all came out Aenima, this album changed the landscape of music. So for any curmudgeon asshole that still thinks “Nirvana ruined it all” no, you did, by not supporting the bands you loved, and by not realizing that Tool was changing the game (among others). Five years later they released another great album Lateralus, but the follow up, 10,000 Days, just didn’t connect with me. The album isn’t bad, it has some great tracks on it, but just not on the same level in my opinion as the previous two. All of these albums are now wreaking havoc on all types of charts becoming available on streaming services for the first time. I like to think that Tool, along with Fear Factory and System Of A Down where the last game changing bands in hard rock and metal. So when the title track for Fear Inoculum came out, people’s initial reaction was either how great the release was, or “I waited thirteen years for this?” because you know the new Tool song sounded like, (gasp) Tool! Seven songs, one song is a little under five minutes, and instrumental, while the rest of the tracks are well over ten minutes long, the title track is actually the third shortest by six seconds! The album sounds like Tool, it’s Adam, Danny, Justin and Maynard, there is no mistaking that. It is a continuation of what they’ve done in the past, not groundbreaking like some of their previous releases, and not shit by any sort of the imagination. The album flows really well, and no song feels bloated or too long. This is also the type of release where NME, Q, and other magazines that don’t give a fuck about anything heavier than The Black Keys decide they need to release a review on the album. All of the metal sites are slobbering all over the album saying it’s the most dense, complex, or whatever adjective that refers to multilayered can be thrown at it. The album is good, but let’s be honest they aren’t reinventing the wheel here. Danny’s syncopated tom hits are nothing new, neither is the flange/delay on Justin’s bass, or Adam weaving his guitar web throughout the songs, adding the right amount of spice where needed. And Maynard’s lyrics are well thought out, poignant, and fantastic as always. The band kicks ass on the album, there is no denying that, it is a really good listen, and strong throughout, but just not as inventive as people would lead you to believe. On the flipside, if you’re sitting there saying “I waited this long for a Tool album to sound like Tool”, chill and enjoy the album!
Isole – Dystopia
Alongside Fear Inoculum, Isole seem like a bunch of slackers, what do you mean your songs are only six to eight minutes long? Ha, I kid, I kid! The band has been around for twenty nine years, first as Forlon, and then as Isole. They have been putting out albums steadily every few years since their debut as Isole, 2005’s Forevermore. If you’ve never heard of the band before, they’re a classic epic doom metal band from Sweden. I’ve yet to read one bad thing about this release, and both fans and critics alike are giving the album high praise saying it’s the album where they finally put all of the pieces together, and is a cut above everything they’ve previously released.
Wage War – Pressure
Yes they’re a metalcore band, and metal subgenre that I have always been into, hell if something sounds cool, who cares how it’s categorized? Provided you dig it, and it speaks to you, who cares right? So the first thing that stood out to me with the band is the interplay between their guitarists. The biggest complaint from people my age of bands that tune down is “all they do is ride and chug on the lowest string”. Sure you get that here and there, but the fret work is beyond sick, and more inline with prog metal bands like Periphery, with the added caveat of there being guttural and clean vocals mixed in. The clean vocals being very melodic, and infectious helping push the songs beyond being “more of the same” and being something that stands out.
Black Star Riders – Another State Of Grace
This is the fourth album by the band, their first with new guitarist Christian Martucci, who is best known for his work in Stone Sour. He replaces Damon Johnson who was a big part of writing the band’s first three albums. If you were to believe the band, they feel that this is the strongest the band has ever been, and as a result their strongest album to date. Let’s be honest, they aren’t going to say “Damon was much better, and this albums is rubbish!” So as much as it seems that they’re throwing Damon under the bus in interviews, I don’t think done out of spite, it’s just a sales ploy. I had a cousin that would say “keep talking bad about your horse and see how you sell it”, same deal. Damon is still part of Thin Lizzy which also features Ricky Warwick and Scott Gorham. So I have to believe this is them propping up Christian and the new album more than anything else. This album also marks Chad Szeliga first album with the band, after Jimmy DeGrasso jumped ship in 2017 to join Ratt, yikes! Needless to say, that was short lived, but hey, maybe it was just his time to move on from BSR? The band has always charted well in the UK, with each release placing higher on their charts. Reviews have also been very positive, some even going as far as saying this is the band’s best release.
Liv Sin – Burning Sermons
As most probably already know, Liv Sin features former Sister Sin lead singer Liv Jagrell. There aren’t too many musicians that get a second chance, especially when they decide to take things in a slightly different direction. Sure you can say Ronnie James Dio, or Sammy Hagar, but they made lateral moves, where a jump from Rainbow to Black Sabbath wasn’t that far fetched. While Sister Sin continuously displayed their influences on their sleeves per say, never veering far from the Motorhead or AC/DC blueprint, Liv Sin is definitely a heavier more modern sounding band. So this is like going from AC/DC to In Flames. While other bands just decide to modernize their sound to get on mainstream radio, this band combines the best of both worlds, without compromising. Liv still has that same snarl she’s always been known for, while the production is just right without being too shiny and uber radio friendly.
Transport League – A Million Volt Scream
Looking for some infectious riffs that take unexpecting twists and turns, while mixing melodies that will easily get stuck in your head? Well then this album might be exactly what you’re looking for. The band is proud to say that they’re a big fan of the Texas boogie, not only calling their 2013 release Boogie From Hell, but also offering up elements to their albums that just make you want to get up and move. Think ZZ Top influence, but heavier than Queens Of the Stone Age, mixed with some Black Sabbath, and some of the more boogieing aspects of AC/DC. Sounds kind of weird when you describe it, but it all makes sense once you listen to it.
The New Death Cult – Zeitgeist
The Norwegian band borrows elements from a few different places, The Cult had previously used the name Southern Death Cult, and Death Cult, while this band is The New Southern Death Cult. They use the same Greek names that that fellow Scandinavian band Ghost uses for their Ghouls, plus the band is masked, although they look more like Brujeria then they do Ghost. But their message in the end is straight up rock, and their lyrics are much more political than The Cult or Ghost.
Status Quo – Backbone
This band deserves to be mentioned because of all they’ve done over the years, granted they’ve never been huge in the US outside of this little old song called “Picture Of Matchstick Men”. I say that sarcastically, because that song was huge. But that was back in the 60, and they’ve had a ton of hits all over the world like “In The Army Now”, “Rockin’ All Over The World”, “Caroline” or “Whatever You Want”. They’ve literally had 32 songs that have charted all over the world. And let’s be honest a lot of people thought “what’s the band going to do now that Rick Parfitt has died”, but Francis Rossi has been their from the start, this was and always will be his band. They aren’t inventing anything new with the album, but are letting people know that Quo is still around in 2019 and they’re still rockin with the best of them.
Iggy Pop – Free
So anyone at this point saying that Iggy Pop is experimenting, really hasn’t followed his career. He’s been just as much a chameleon as his late friend David Bowie, from the Raw Power of The Stooges, to “Lust For Life”, “The Passenger”, “Real Wild Child (Wild One)” or “Candy”, just to name some of his bigger hits, he’s always been all over the place. Free is yet again totally different to anything in his catalog, perhaps his most mellow release to date. The album features his collaborations with guitarist/composer Sarah Lipstate, a.k.a. Noveller and Jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas, their input drives this album in directions where Iggy has not gone before. So rather than using the word experimenting, I would rather point out the fact that Iggy is just continuously paving his own path, regardless of how others want to pigeonhole him. He continues to zig while others think he’s going to zag, and just like the late Roddy Piper, continues to change the questions when people think they have all the answers.
Korn – The Nothing
I’ve been a fan of Korn’s for a long time, and although there are a few releases I don’t care for as a whole, I seem to always find something I like off of there albums. I have to tell you, this to me is one of their strongest releases to date. The band re-teamed with producer Nick Raskulinecz, and they seemed to have found a balance between all of the elements that have made them great throughout their career. The album offers a ton of great melodies, a splash of guttural vocals where needed, infused with their unique rhythm section, and signature guitars which seem to be what stitches everything together between the vocals and syncopation of the drums and bass. Definitely an album that will be on my year end list, and recommended for anyone that’s a fan of the band.
Tom Keifer – Rise
Cinderella fans waited what seems to be forever to hear Keifer’s first solo album The Way Life Goes, Rise has only taken four years. The album ties together a lot of things that you’ve known Keifer for, hard rock, blues, and even some acoustic music. While it seemed that he wanted to shun Cinderella, and the music that kind of got him to the dance, this album proves that isn’t entirely true, as he’s cranking out some of his heaviest music, while mixing it in with some of his gentler playing without going full blown 80s power ballad cliche. This album is a must for a fan of Cinderella, or anyone that was into that era of hard rock.
The 69 Eyes – West End
Album number 12, by the Finnish group, although I’ve always enjoyed them for the most part, I’ve always felt they were Type O Negative lite per say, and that’s not a knock, because I really liked that band, and really like a lot of what The 69 Eyes have to offer. Nothing off of this album will shock anyone, as it’s kind of a paint by numbers album, hitting all of the right marks a fan of the band would want and expect. The album features guest appearances from Cradle Of Filth’s Dani Filth, Wednesday 13 and Beastö Blancö’s Calico Cooper.
KXM – Circle Of Dolls
This is the band’s third album, and actually Ray Luzier’s second release of the day, as the K in the band stands for Korn. The band for me has always been hit or miss, either great, or just kind of there, no in betweens. There are some tracks that definitely bring together some of the aspects that have made you fall in love each members “day jobs”, and that’s perhaps why I hold this band to higher standards when listening to them. Cause like I alluded to above, when they’re on, they’re really really good, but when it’s not all there it leaves me thinking, oh, why couldn’t this of been more like that other track? If you like the band’s previous two albums, you’ll check this one out no doubt, hopefully this time around they end up touring.
Ram – The Throne Within
The band marks its second decade in the game, with what some are harolding as one of their best albums to date. If you’re not familiar with the band, this may be the perfect gateway for you, given how solid of an album this is. They mix all of the elements you’ve come to love from NWOBHM bands, although this album is new, it sounds as if it could have been released sometime in the early 80s. Even the video for the track featured below is a call back to that era.
Block Buster – Losing Gravity
Frontiers Records is known for more of the glam, power, prog metal bands, while it isn’t the only thing they release, it’s really the core of their lineup. So when listening to this release I didn’t expect what I heard, in other words, to find a hard rock band that had more to do with some of the retro garage bands of the 90s, than the you usually find the label releasing. The band harkens back to 70s and 80s rock, while presenting a modern feel. The band isn’t new, they’ve been around since 2008, but this is only their second album. May be worth your wild if you’re looking for something different.
Puddle Of Mudd – Welcome To Galvania
The long awaited(?) return of Puddle Of Mudd, the band that in recent years has been know more for the follies of Wes Scantlin, than their actual music. Their first album Come Clean is one of the best rock albums of the early 2000s, but every album since then has left a lot to be desired. Sure they’re a multi-platinum selling band, but mainly due to Come Clean, and people thinking “is this the one where they return to form?” Based on what I’ve heard, this unfortunately isn’t even as good, and I use that term very, very loosely as any of the albums that came out after Come Clean.
Michael Schenker Fest – Revelation
I am still a huge fan of a lot of what Michael has done, from U.F.O. to his first two solo albums, and two out of the three McAuley Schenker albums. I still play a lot of his music on a frequent basis. But I have to admit that I lost interest after that third McAuley Schenker album as things seem to become paint by numbers with each of his releases. I know there were a ton of people that loved the first Michael Schenker Fest album Resurrection. Although the playing and vocals are great, it sort of ticking off all the boxes you would expect from everyone involved, but little else. I can still listen to unexpected gems like “Eve” or “Paradise” off of the self-titled McAuley Schenker album and think that those songs are timeless. Save Yourself was a let down for me, I didn’t think they could recover from that nose dive. But, they did, and of course I went into this album thinking, well, he’s recovered before, why not now? Again, If you loved Resurrection, you’ll love Revelation. It’s a continuation of what they did on that album, and it’s rudimentary 80s hard rock, no more no less. Both albums are better than some of what Michael has released in the past. The cast of characters involved are out of this world. But, for me, the last two Graham Bonnet Band releases, The Book and Meanwhile, Back At The Garage, are filled with the fire, passion and bite. That’s exactly what these two Michael Schenker Fest albums are missing. Missing are fiery guitar parts that make up classic tracks like “Get Out”, or captivating riffs like “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”. For me, there is nothing on the album that ticks that box off.
The Agonist – Orphans
Any type of press is good press right? In recent week’s we’ve all seen the interview clips, rebuttals and headlines that come along every time The Agonist release a new album. Regardless of any actual drama that may exist, the band continues to plow ahead and get sonically better. They continue to progress in all aspects of their song writing. The guitars are more elaborate, and this seems to be the album where Vicky Psarakis really puts her stamp on the band. She seamlessly switches up vocal styles, and making die hards forget of that other singer they once had.
Kobra And The Lotus – Evolution
The Canadian band has been around for quite some time. Although they have been towing the line between classic heavy metal/power metal, this title points to their change in direction. Where a band like Lacuna Coil has gotten progressively heavier with time, it seems as if Kobra And The Lotus have gone in the opposite direction. The first single “Burn” is a modern day hard rock scorcher. Kobra Paige’s vocals are still as powerful and in your face as ever. But this is definitely a lot more hooky and radio friendly than what they’ve done in the past.
Exhorder – Mourn The Southern Skies
Was it the Chicken or the egg? Did Exhorder influence Pantera, or did they steal from the band? Did one have the luxury of a label like Atco/Atlantic, while the other was on a much smaller Roadrunner Records at the time? The debate will go on and on forever, but the one certainty is that this is the band’s first full length studio album since 1992’s The Law. The only two members from the original lineup are lead singer Kyle Thomas, and guitarist Vinnie LaBella. Everyone else came aboard in 2017, including Thomas’ Heavy As Texas bandmate Marzi Montazeri. The album is heavy, and angry; it mixes a perfect blend of old school thrash, with new school production values. If you’re a fan of the band’s first two albums, you’ll more than likely love Mourn The Southern Skies as well.
Snow Burial – Ostrava
The Chicago three piece started out as Oxblood, Ostrava is their second full length under the Snow Burial name, and first on Prosthetic Records.
Monolord – No Comfort
This Swedish trio also debuts on a new label, for them it’s Relapse. This album might be for you if you’re into fuzzed out sludge, and love Ozzyesque vocal hooks and melodies.
Hellyeah – Welcome Home
This album will forever mark the final recordings of the legendary Vinnie Paul. Of course he’ll be most remembered for his work with Pantera, and the way he revolutionized how drummers recorded their bass drums. Once Vulgar Display Of Power came out, everyone wanted Vinnie’s sound. Check out any metal album from that era as proof. Vinnie and company were always in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, as a lot of his followers wanted this band or anything Vinnie did to be Pantera II, and it just wasn’t. Say what you want, but Chad Grey’s vocals, and his lyrical cadences have always been unique to him. You hear him, and know who he is, and for me, when his melodies are on, or he’s pouring his angst into a song, there are very few artists that came out around the time that he did that do it better. As a result, this band was always going to be a combination of Mudvayne, and some of the more hard rock aspects of Pantera/Damageplan. Some of the times it worked out great, and other times, it has just kind of left me empty. But I have to say, this album really stands out from everything they’ve released. Was it this strong before Vinnie passed away? Or did they go back, and make sure the album was the ultimate tribute to their fallen brother? Either way, several of the tracks that I’ve heard have caught me off guard with how much I have enjoyed them. It will be interesting to see what they do moving forward, in the meantime enjoy Welcome Home.
Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
This is a band whose fanbase is beyond devoted. If they release a new album expect to hear “this is the greatest album of all time” or the question, “does Mikael Åkerfeldt get back to doing guttural vocals?” In any event, mainman Åkerfeldt recently said the last thing he’d ever do when writing a song is contemplating what a fan may want from him or the band. The album comes in various forms, including English and Swedish. Musically, it is a combination of a bunch of things the band has done well over the years, may be not as death metal as some would want, but you do get the right ingredients of everything. It’s metal where it needs to be, and its proggy in all of the right places. Let’s be honest here, most fans of the band will check this album out. To get a further taste of the album, check out my previous post regarding the track “Dignity” here.
Steel Panther – Heavy Metal Rules
There are still people getting upset over this band. They don’t quite get “it”, and don’t like their schtick, because in most cases, it hits too close to home. They probably dressed just like them during the heyday of the Sunset Strip. Or don’t get the jokes, because they’re still lampooning some of their favorite bands the 80s had to offer. And let’s face it, are probably better musically, than most of said bands, even if you think they’ve surpassed their fifteen minutes. But the band still have the same whit they had before donning the name Steel Panther, and keep coming back for more on album number five. Here is a recent episode of Talking Metal where Emily interviewed the band’s bass player Lexxi Foxx.
Wednesday 13 – Necrophaze
We recently featured the video for the track “Bring Your Own Blood” off of the album. At this point in time, if you aren’t aware of Wednesday 13, you were probably locked away for the past fifteen plus years. His music has always been a mix of hard rock, horror themes, and the female persuasion. Channeling the same campy horror movies that influenced the likes of Rob Zombie, and Misfits, with a splash of Type O Negative, Wednesday 13 has found his niche in the hard rock and metal world.
Ancient VVisdom – Mundus
Yesterday we posted about the upcoming third album by Nathan Opposition’s other band Vessel Of Light. Today we’re posting about his other band’s fourth album, Mundus. This album channels the news and deprivation of today. Pushing the band further down the course they established on their previous releases. They make sure to provide you with provocative lyrics, crushing riffs, and videos that always go hand in hand with the message they’re trying to convey.
KMFDM – Paradise
The groundbreaking industrial metal band returns to stir shit up once again. Their lyrics have always been inspired by the world’s underbelly, injustice and chaos. This album is no different, touching on all things you’ve come to love from the band, including an updated version of their classic “Megalomaniac” simply titled “Megalo”. If you’re a fan of the band, Ministry, or Nine Inch Nails, this album will surely not disappoint.
CoreLeoni – II
Ronnie Romero is always the focal point of any band he’s a part of, regardless if its Rainbow, The Ferrymen, Lords Of Black, or CoreLeoni. The band is made up of current, and former members of bands like Gotthard, U.D.O. and Jorn Lande. The track below “Queen Of Hearts” reminds me of early Dio, as in Holy Diver era Dio. Someone that has obviously influenced Ronnie as he’s constantly compared to him.
Ghost – Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic EP
I would be remiss if I didn’t post about this EP. Earlier this month I did post about “Kiss The Go-Goat”, the first single off of this 7″ EP. The B-side if you will is the track “Mary On A Cross”. Both tracks definitely have the 60s psychedelia tuned up, with Tobias Forge pushing the band in yet a different direction after Prequelle, which is also being re-released in an expanded vinyl reissue.
Flying Colors – Third Degree
When you have the names Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Casey McPherson, Steve Morse, and Dave Larue involved in anything, nonetheless combined, the word supergroup is going to get thrown around. This is the band’s third full length studio album, and similar to Toto, the band came together to prove that these musicians, known more for their work in the prog world could flat out rock. Or in other words, release music that was more palatable to the general public. That said, this album has many peaks and valleys, and has a little of everything for those that are fans of the components of the band, or just the casual fan that’s looking for something different.
Gost – Valediction
Looking for a mix of darkwave, retro synth and industrial metal? A fan of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry or Gary Numan, and like a hint of black metal vocals? This might be the album you’ve been waiting for. Producer GosT has been releasing albums since 2013, and has toured with all types of bands within the metal community. They are signed to Century Media, and this is technically their sixth release.
William DuVall – One Alone
One of the things that I’ve discussed over the past few years is just how William DuVall sounds nothing like Layne Staley, and those that keep saying that have yet to figure out that you’ve been fixated on Jerry Cantrell’s vocals all this time, and mistaken them for Layne’s. Want further proof beyond Willam’s work with Come With The Fall? How about this solo album? You can argue that he sounds different within the confines of AIC, but this further displays what a talented singer and composer he actually is.
The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled
This is a band whose music has either really caught me, or have really done nothing for me. I know they have die hards that love everything they release, but man I haven’t heard anything off of this album that’s really excited me. I thought Pinewood Smile was great, love most of that album, it was really the first album that clicked with me by the band, and made me think “ok I get it”. But we’re back to square one on this one. I’m sure fans of the band will check this out, but not my cup of tea. Sorry just my funky taste in music.
Issues – Beautiful Oblivion
This is a very interesting mix, they’re classified as a post-hardcore band, but this goes to show you that labels aren’t always accurate. Here are a list of bands that I like that are classified in this metal sub-genre: Alexisonfire, American Standards, Asking ALexandria, At The Drive-in, Of Mice And Men, Refused, Touche Amore, etc. Each of those bands sound nothing like each other and Issues sounds drastically different from all of them! The vocals are slanted more towards R&B, more like Michael Jackson or D’Angelo. But that might not be a bad thing? This kind of caught me off guard, you be the judge, do you dig it or not?
Mary’s Blood – Confessions
Another one that’s new to me, the Japanese band has been around for ten years. The single for “Labyrinth Of The Abyss” mixes Japanese and English lyrics for (at least to me) and unexpected surprise.
Syberia – Seeds Of Change
Instrumental metal seems to have begun getting popular over the last few years. Here in Spain, Horn Of The Rhino have become super popular among metalheads, and the band has been touring all over Europe in recent years. Although Horn Of The Rhino are more of a doom/sludge based band, Syberia’s brand of music has more to do with prog, jazz / black metal chord phrasing and just straight up rock. This is their third full length studio album, and they’re signed to Metal Blade. We featured their video “Seeds Of Change” a few weeks back, you can check that video out here.
Life Of Agony – The Sound Of Scars
I recently posted about the making of the new L.O.A. album The Sound Of Scars, as well as posted about the video for the track “Laydown”. Since then I’ve had a chance to listen to the album, and I like it a lot. Definitely end of year list for me, and this track “Black Heart” is probably my favorite track off of the album. The Sound Of Scars is the band’s second concept album, it continues the story arc that they started with their debut album River Runs Red. One thing that kind of irks me, because it’s always kind of a letdown, is to hear bands say “this sounds like our biggest/most classic album”. It bothers me, because 99.99% of the time, it doesn’t. I know, they’ve been saying it sounds like River Runs Red, to me it doesn’t, just being honest. That doesn’t mean that the album isn’t good. And to me, “Black Heart” has a lot of the feel that Ugly had, more so that River Runs Red. The reason being? Is the development, and evolution of Mina’s voice. Where the first album was more of Danzig, meets hardcore, meets their brand of metal, by the time Ugly came out, the vocals weren’t just one thing. You started hearing variations in how the vocals were presented to help convey different sets of emotions that were present in those songs. There are also aspect of the that sound like Soul Searching Sun, which are a little on the mellower side. But the band has always been great at presenting those kinds of songs as well.
Babymetal – Metal Galaxy
Whether you like it or not, Babymetal is a worldwide phenomenon. They were part of this past summer’s Glastonbury festival, the biggest festival in the world, surpassing festivals like Wacken. They consistently sell out stadiums throughout Asia, and have had successful tours of Europe and the US. This is their third full length album, the first without Yuimetal. The album pushes the limits of what purists would call metal. Not only does it incorporate the J-Pop aspect with the vocalists of the band, and the metal backdrop on which the band is founded on, but the album is full various different flavors of music. Everything from samba, to jazz, to latin, and Indian as you can see in the video below. The album also includes guest appearances by Arch Enemy’s Alissa Gluz-White, Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén, members of progressive rock/metal band Polyphia, Japanese guitarist Tak Matsumoto, best known for his work with B’z, and rapper F. Hero.
Lacuna Coil – Black Anima
I’ve read some absolute joke reviews about this album. Most sound as if the reviewer either sampled 30 seconds of each track, because they have 20 other reviews to do. Are butt hurt because they were not allowed to interview Cristina Scabbia. They have paid zero attention to the band and its evolution over the years. Or for whatever random reason talk the album up, and give it a poor review anyway. Oh no Comalies was such a breakthrough, Karmacode was so bad I jumped off the bandwagon, and all types of other drivel like this. There is nothing worse than a metal purist that gets stuck, and only wants bands to release the same album over and over again. Or those that “oh my God, Karmacode had a Depeche Mode cover on it, Shallow Life had popish songs on it, I can never listen to anything else by the band again”. Not every band hits it out of the park every time they’re up to bat, but every album has had three to four really good songs on it. 2016’s Delirium was for my money one of the best albums to be released that year. It is an album I constantly go back and listen to and own on vinyl, cd, and bought on iTunes back in the day. That was their heaviest album to date, and Black Anima has surpassed that. Very few bands get heavier as they evolve, I can look to Testament as another, but very few others can deal with the loss of several members, experiment, meander between gothic metal, electronica, and metal without losing a good chunk of their fanbase. Lacuna Coil seem to be as popular as ever, and this album continues the trajectory that they have been on getting heavier and expanding their sound. For all of those “experts” that reviewed the album, and said “they haven’t taken enough chances” or “everything they did was kind of expected” you can’t say that about the band, and then slobber all over releases the latest releases by bands like Tool, Amon Amarth. Reviews all come down to personal preference. I get it, and I appreciate both Fear Inoculum and Berserker, but you’re being pretty inconsistent if your calling one band to task over something, yet totally turning a blind eye to another. Definitely recommend this album to anyone that’s remotely a fan of the band, based on my fucked up taste in music, this is probably another end of year list album for me.
Vessel Of Light – Thy Serpent Rise
This album actually drops in a few weeks on all of the major streaming platforms. But you can already sample it, and pick it up from CD Baby. This is the first album to feature the band as a four piece, returning are founding members Nathan Opposition on vocals, and Dan Lorenzo on guitars. Joining them are two people that have been linked to Lorenzo for a long time, and that’s world Ron Lipnicki on drums, known for his work with Hades and being the driving force behind quita few releases by Overkill. And on bass you have another Hades alum, the masterful Jimmy Schulman. Right away you can definitely feel the influence of the Lipnicki and Schulman taking the band to another level. That isn’t to say that everything they released before wasn’t great. It’s just that adding those additional ingredients to the recipe make the dish that much better. Lorenzo’s crushing riffs, Oppositions unique vocals added to a new rhythm section that instantly leaves their mark on the band’s music. If you remotely like doom metal, stoner metal, or are fans of Lorenzo or Opposition’s other bands, check this out.
Down ‘N’ Outz – This Is How We Roll
In the case you didn’t know, Def Leppard lead vocalist Joe Elliott has a side project called Down ‘N’ Outs. This is the band’s third album, all originals, except for the cover of The Tubes’ classic “White Punks On Dope”. The band this time around is made up of members of The Quireboys, Wayward Sons, and Vixen. Although it isn’t Def Leppard, it is hard to not pick out Elliott’s voice.
The Ferrymen – A New Evil
In the event that you don’t know, the band features Rainbow’s Ronnie Romero, Primal Fear’s Magnus Karlsson, and all star drummer Mike Terrana. If you’re a fan of the first album, you’ll enjoy this one as well. Their second album A New Evil takes things in a slightly heavier direction, and as Karlsson puts it, a more progressive direction. Sometimes their label puts projects together that just feel kind of empty, like they have no soul, no balls behind the music. But this one really connected with me as it isn’t paint by numbers tracks by the band, instead it’s them showcasing what they can do, instead of releasing what they think the audience will want. The “melodic metal” entrapment can just be a rehash of 80s hard rock, but this takes aspects of everything you’ve known the player for, and making it work cohesively as a unit, instead of just being a series of parts pasted together.
Soren Andersen – Guilty Pleasures
Probably best known for being Glenn Hughes’ guitarist, Danish guitarist Soren Andersen is proving that he can mix the best of classic instrumental albums of yesteryear with today’s technology. If you listen to the album you will double take and think “wait is this a Jan Hammer song?” Or you might actually think you’re listening to a lost Joe Satriani album. The album is actually that good, Soren takes obvious trends that are popular in today’s movies, TV, and pop culture in general, and puts his spin on things. Are you into the soundscapes of Stranger Things, or The Righteous Gemstones which harken back to the 80s? Well this might be an album you might just want to check out.
Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
This is the Fates Warning lead singer’s first solo album. Sure his voice is immediately recognizable, and although some would say this still fits within the realm of prog metal, it also arguably veers off course quite a bit from what most associate with Adler’s body of work. The album did take some time to put together, and was produced by Adler himself. It contains tracks that feature Fates Warning touring guitarist Mike Abdow, and Spanish guitarist Tony Hernando (best known for Lords Of Black outside of Spain), both also play bass on the album. Craig Anderson of the band Ignite plays drums throughout the album. Ray is such a huge figure in prog metal that a lot of his fans, or fans of the genre will no doubt check this album out.
Infected Rain – Endorphin
I’ve posted about this album several times in the past few weeks. I initially posted about the video for the track “Storm”, and then hyped up the album’s release with a few videos. A lot of focus has been put on the Ukrainian band Jinjer, but Moldavia’s Infected Rain is poised to be a big player as well. The album is solid top to bottom, and although people may want to pigeon hole it as one thing or another, it’s a lot of different things rolled into one. If you’re looking for something new to check out, I highly recommend this release.
Refused – War Music
The Swedish band has never disappointed, at least they haven’t disappointed me. Their album 1998 album The Shape Of Punk To Come reshaped rock based music. You had all kinds of artists like Scott Ian of Anthrax (who would later go on to cover the band’s song “New Noise”), and Guns N Roses’ Duff McKagan praise the band. Although members have changed over the years, the poignant lyrics, and angst has never faltered. Each one of their albums always seems to be full of tracks that garner my attention. If you’re a fan of the band, this is a must have.
Rob Halford – Celestial
This is the Judas Priest lead singer’s second foray into Christmas music. The first had its ups and downs for me, some songs were cool, while others were kind of just there. Metal bands have tackled holiday albums, bands like TSO have had massive success, and then you have Twisted Sister. They released an album that featured mutated versions of their songs with Christmas overtones. If you listen to the track “Donner And Blitzen”, it does seem like Halford may have done the same. As the track sounds an awful lot like “Judas Rising” off of Angel Of Retribution, and “Lightning Strike” from the band’s latest album Firepower. This may be a way to slip a little metal into your family’s Christmas playlist.
Aerodyne – Damnation
The band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, a city best known for bands like In Flames, At The Gates and The Haunted among others. Aerodyne is a total throwback to early 80s heavy metal, where a band like Hammerfall (also from Gothenburg) focus more on serving up power metal ala Helloween, Aerodyne is more of a mix of Accept, Motorhead, and Saxon. Damnation sounds like it could have come out around 83 when the NWOBHM’s influence was being felt by all types of hard rock and metal bands. If you’re into throwback bands like Night Demon, and Enforcer, this may be another band worth checking out.
Airbourne – Boneshaker
Either you love Airbourne, or you don’t, it’s that simple. They put on a great live show, but at this point, they aren’t reinventing the wheel. Well, they kind of never have! If you love any of their previous albums, and love the (mostly) AC/DC influence mixed in with some Motorhead snarl and sarcasm, then you’ll probably love Boneshaker as well.
Desert Sessions – Vols. 11 & 12 ( Arrivederci Despair and Tightwads & Nitwits & Critics & Heels)
The return of one of Josh Homme’s infamous projects. The Desert Sessions have always been a revolving cast of characters, the one constant being Homme. You can hear him everywhere on this release, what I mean by that is if you’ve dug his music in the past, the quirks, zannyness, stomps, fuzz, or just his brand of rock, you’ll get this album, in every sense of the notion. You’ll understand it, buy it, etc.
Jinger – Macro
The Ukrainian band is poised for big things, they have been making the festival rounds, and growing their audience in the process. Reaction videos on YouTube have more than likely helped also. Macro sees the band build upon their previous work. They have evolved and become better musicians, and overall composers growing in all directions. They’re ultra heavy where they need to be, while clean and mellow where it is called for as well. This band has a tremendous upside, and highly recommended you check the album out even if you have no previous knowledge of them.
Phil Campbell – Old Lions Still Roar
A few weeks back we posted the first track off of Phil Campbell’s upcoming solo album Old Lions Still Roar. That track featured Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, and below “Swing It” which features Alice Cooper. Hard to believe that this is Phil’s first solo, and he’s gone about it in a big way inviting tons of special guests, including the two blokes mentioned above, as well as Judas Priest’s Rob Halford on “Straight Up”.
The Almost – Fear Caller
The Almost is the brainchild of Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie. The band’s new album, Fear Caller comes out today, and features a cover of the U2 track “In God’s Country” which originally came off of their seminal album The Joshua Tree. Check out the cover below:
Turbokill – Vice World
I was introduced to this band about a month ago, and have been looking forward to this release since. It’s just good old fashioned German heavy metal with a modern twist.
Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.
For a band that criticized some heavy metal icons, (in a joking manner), their debut had more to do with modern rock clichés, then bringing the metal. They have been successful with their cover of the Cranberries classic “Zombie” (we all know the story by now), but something about that album left me feeling like it was Five Finger Death Punch lite. But can a band overcome being “just that band with that updated cover”, like say Alien Ant Farm? I have massive respect for Doc Coyle, he hosts a great podcast, and struggled to make a dime in God Forbid. I get why he and the band would want to follow in the footsteps of other bands that are currently successful in the hard rock and metal genre. Who wouldn’t want to make a buck, and do what they love at the same time? The first single I’ve heard off of the album, “I’ll Be There” sounds more along the lines of what I had expected by the band, which is more of a modern twist on metalcore. If you’re a fan of his, or Tommy Vext, I’m sure you’ll check the album out anyway.
Saint Asonia – Flawed Design
I’ll admit I was a fan of those first few Three Days Grace with Adam Gontier on vocals, and have always enjoyed Mike Mushok’s playing whether that’s Staind or Newsted. But the self-titled album just seemed kind of generic to me. I can get into “radio rock” provided that the melody, or playing has something cool to it, and that first album just seemed too cookie cutter for me. The first single off of Flawed Design features Godsmack’s Sully Erna, and the combination of Erna and Gontier’s vocals sound really cool to me.
Silvertomb – Edge Of Existence
We’ve posted about the release of this album on several occasions, we posted videos for “Waiting”, and “Right Of Passage / Crossing Over”. To fans of Type O Negative the names Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly will undoubtedly ring a bell. After Peter Steele’s death the two went on to form Seventh Void, a band that really displayed Kenny’s Chris Cornell like vocals, if Soundgarden ever wants to continue, Mr. Hickey may be the answer? He sounds kind of like Cornell, and also plays guitar. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, joining these two in Silvertomb are Joseph James on guitar(ex-Agnostic Front), Aaron Joos on Keys, guitar and backing vocals (Awaken the Shadow, Empyreon) and Hank Hell on bass (ex-Seventh Void). The album is possibly a little bit more doomy than what they did in Seventh Void. Obviously there are aspects there that are similar, especially given Kenny’s voice. If you liked Seventh Void, or like Kenny’s singing in Type-O this album may peak your interest. If you’re into checking out some new doom metal, check it out as well.
Deaf Rat – Ban The Light
Everyone keeps saying “Sweden seems to get it”, there are so many great Swedish rock and metal bands releasing music in 2019, Deaf Rat is one of them. I could easily see them opening for bands like Dead Daisies, Whitesnake, Tesla, or being paired with a band like Inglorious. They mix aspects of 70s hard rock, with a modern rock feel. Recommended to anyone looking for a new hard rock band to check out.
Eskimo Callboy – Rehab
I found out about this German band a few years back while still writing for Century Media. The band is huge in their native country, and has established themselves as one of the premier bands on the European festival circuit. Although they’re labeled as a metalcore band, they’ve truly evolved over the years, adding different things to each album as they go. A lot of this album is just flat out hard rock, mixed with the usual electronic/EDM accoutrements they’ve almost always added to their music. But there as aspects that might be considered pop, or even modern punk in nature. This is definitely not an album that you can go into with a closed/purist mind.
Voyager – Colours In The Sun
The Australian progressive metal band has been around for two decades, with their lead singer/keyboard player Daniel Estrin being their only constant. This marks their seventh full length release. The band does a good job of mixing classic prog metal influences like Dream Theater, and modern prog giants like Periphery. They also mix aspects of music that call back to the 80s, which has been made all the rave by bands like The Night Flight Orchestra, or even aspects of synth wave similar that made popular by the series Stranger Things. They’re definitely not a one trick pony, and offer a little of everything to people willing to take a chance on them.
Angel Witch – Angel Of Light
Mark Strigl recently interviewed Will Palmer from the band on an episode of Talking Metal. I also posted about the track “Don’t Turn Your Back” in late August. Let’s be honest, if you are a fan of NWOBHM, you should know the name Angel Witch. Over the years the band has included Exodus guitarist Lee Altus, and their drummer Tom Hunting; as well as famed Carcass guitarist Bill Steer. Kevin Heybourne has been in the band the longest, his riffs and vocal stylings are synonimous with the band. He has been named as an influence by a lot of early thrash bands, hence why members of Exodus would be drawn to playing in the band. It is also why others like Dave Mustaine have praised the band in the past, going as far as sporting one of their t-shirts on the cover of a magazine. If you’re a fan of the band, I recommend you check this album out, it will not disappoint. This is only their sixth studio album, but it delivers everything you’d expect from the band.
Edge Of Paradise – Universe
The band has been on my radar for years, ever since I first heard Margarita Monet’s scorching vocals on the track “Mask”. She has a very unique voice, she can bring the fire, and hit high notes that most can not, or keep things quiet to a whisper, making that climb from one style of vocals to another even more impactful. Couple that with her partner in crime guitarist Dave Bates, and the two have always presented hook riddled hard rock that meanders between the tradition, to the modern, while adding bits and pieces of industrial metal to the mix. Although all of their releases have been good, at least to me, their first with Frontiers takes things up a notch. Producer Mike Plotnikoff has helped raise the bar, and this is easily their best album both socially, and from a musical standpoint.
Laura Cox – Burning Bright
The French guitarist second album Burning Bright is a mix of hard rock and blues. Or as she puts it “southern hard blues”. With a musical concoction of Joe Bonamassa mixed with AC/DC, and the image of 80s Joan Jett, clad in a black leather biker jacket. But don’t let that fool you, as she’ll sear your face off with fiery solos that separate her from the hundreds of thousands of pretenders out there. If there was ever a female G3, Laura would have to be among the women considered for the bill.
Mammoth Mammoth – Kreuzung
Napalm Records has been great at bringing us bands from Europe that otherwise would probably not get any exposure in the US. The Austrian band Mammoth Mammoth is one of those. Their music offers riffs for days, mixed with catchy hooks. If you’re into bands like The Cult, Monster Magnet, or Mustache, and you’re looking for something new, this might be an album worth checking out.
Denner’s Inferno – In Amber
We previously discussed Chandler Mogel’s appearance on the album, and featured the release of the Fountain Of Grace EP in August. Everything I’ve heard leading up to the release of the album has Michael Denner written all over it. It’s his classic creepy metal riffs, mixed with a touch of NWOBHM feel that’s made him such an influence to so many players over the years. If you’re a fan of Denner’s playing, this is a must have for you.
Die Krupps – Vision 2020 Vision
I got to interview Die Krupps mastermind Jurgen Engler back in the early 90s. At the time Hollywood Records had just released their Metallica tribute album. His brand of music was totally new to me, I thought it was cool, and different, but I didn’t entirely grasp it. This was before becoming a huge fan of bands like Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM, and realizing that my love for Depeche Mode and hard rock/metal could be combined into something that unbeknownst to me was industrial metal. This would come later, and what I wasn’t aware of is that the band at that point in time had been together for over fifteen years, and were in fact pioneers in the genre. Thirty nine years after the band released their first album comes Vision 2020 Vision, the CD and DVD are closely tied together, it is a concept album that tells a story about a grim present and future that many of us face. It is classic Die Krupps in every way shape or form, it is a must get for anyone that is a fan of the band.
Hanging Garden – Into That Good Night
This is my new to me entry for the week, the Finnish doom metal band has been around since 2004. The band is an interesting mix of things, I can hear everything from The Cure, to Bauhaus, to H.I.M., to Paradise Lost in their music. It’s an interesting mix for sure, and although it seems kind of mellow at times, there is a gut punch of heaviness waiting around the corner to catch you off guard. Looking for something different, while still heavy, check this album out.
Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ritual
A few years back the band shocked me with the release of self-titled release. What’s typical for bands of their pedigree is to release a paint by numbers album that copies what made them popular back in the day. For the second release straight I am pleased to say they have not. Ritual is a continuation of their self-titled album from back in 2016. It goes straight for the jugular as if they’re band that’s still hungry and out to prove something. Which to me is highly commendable, and a reason for me to have a hard time to take the album out of my daily rotation. Great vocals, great guitar work, great everything, what more could you want? A must have for anyone that’s a fan of the band.
Void Vator – Stranded
We usually list re-releases and EPs at the bottom, but Void Vator’s Erik Kluiber has been all over my podcast and Talking Metal for year, so I figured, why not help an old friend out? The EP was release earlier this year on various streaming services, and it is now available as a physical release. It also features two new tracks that were previously unavailable. This is the band’s heaviest and rawest release to date, if you’ve dug their music in the past, this one will really get you.
Skyblood – Skyblood
You’ve heard Mats Leven lend his vocal talents to bands like Candlemass, Therion, Krux, Yngwie Malmsteen and At Vance, but Skyblood is his first solo album. We featured a video for the track “The Voice” a few weeks back. This is just straight up heavy metal with Mats’ signature sound all over it. Check it out if you’re a fan of his previous work.
Avatarium – The Fire I Long For
How many times have I brought up in the past few weeks a great Swedish band that I’m just finding out about? Here’s another, they’ve been around for six years, and listed as a doom metal band, but their leanings are more of a hard rock or heavy metal band from what I’ve heard off of The Fire I Long For. There are plenty of other women that are fronting metal bands, but there are so many clones, what I like about Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals is they’re unique, it’s something you wouldn’t expect from a band this heavy, and it just works. Dark, heavy, yet melodic, and captivating vocals, no matter what label you place on it, it’s just good music. This is the band’s fourth full length album, and to add a little back story, the band was started by Candlemass’ Leif Edling, and was originally supposed to have Opeth’s frontman Mikael Akerfeldt within its ranks.
Redline – Gods And Monsters
Any time a band says they’re from Birmingham, England there are going to be comparisons to some of the biggest names in hard rock and metal. When your home town has sprouted Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest, you’re always going to be fighting an uphill battle to carve out your own niche. The band has done just that, taking what is old, and makes it new, they sound closer to a hard rock band like Dokken from a musical standpoint, than any of the bands I’ve referenced above. But they’ve put a modern twist on the sound of their music, without sounding like corporate radio rock. The vocals are unique sounding, without being able to pinpoint an exact influence, but the power is closer to Graham Bonnet or a Geoff Tate, than a Don Dokken. The combined sound is very unique.
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Watchmen: Volume 2 (Music From The HBO Series)
On par with Reznor and Ross’ other soundtracks, and by far the biggest name to release something new this week in the rock world. This is one of many volumes that will be released to coincide with the HBO series “Watchmen”. Given that most of the new albums released this week are industrial in nature, or have dabbled or fooled around with electronic sounds in their music, it is fitting that music by Reznor, who kicked the industrial revolution into gear is featured first this week.
Misery Loves Co. – Zero
The Swedish industrial metal band has been around since 1993. This is their fourth full length album, their first in 19 years, since 2000’s Your VIsion Was Never Mine To Share.
Syztem7 – Evolving
This week’s new to me is this industrial metal band from Seattle, Washington. The band formed back in 2003, and given that there is very little information about them online, this looks to be their second full length album. If you’re into Nine Inch Nails, Filter, and Stabbing Westward, this might be worth checking out.
The End A.D. – Badlands
The Philly band meanders between hardcore, metal and punk. The band was founded in 2014, and can be considered a modern-day crossover band. If you’re into Plasmatics, D.R.I., Cro-mags, or similar, this might be the album for you.
Crystal Eyes – Side By Side
This week’s edition of things from Sweden brings us Crystal Eyes! Take Maiden, Priest, Accept, Thin Lizzy and Helloween, stick them in a blender, and you get Crystal Eyes. Although people have come and gone from the band, lead singer and guitarist Mikael Dahl has been the only constant. This is their eighth release, the band did form in 1992, but their first album did not come out until 1999. Making this year the twentieth anniversary of their debut World Of Black And Silver. The new album features a re-recording of the song “Rage On The Sea” from the debut album.
Human Fortress – Reign Of Gold
The German band has been around since 1997 in one form or another. This is their sixth full length album, their first since 2016’s Thieves In The Night.
IzenGard – Angel Heart
Although the band formed back in 2014, this is their first release. The band isn’t a one trick pony as they definitely spread their wings, and touch upon many different forms of hard rock on their debut.
Jasta – The Lost Chapters, Volume 2
The Hatebreed frontman’s new solo album consists in a series of collaborations with some of metal’s most acclaimed frontmen. Current and former members of Cannibal Corpse, Soulfly, Killswitch Engage, Ignite, Trivium, Crowbar, Biohazard, Emmure, Sacred Reich, and Prong are all present.
Sid Wilson – Sexcapades of the Hopeless Robotic, Vol. 2
The Slipknot DJ drops his new solo, which much like the Jasta album is a collaborative effort. In Sid’s case, his album is full of guest appearances by rappers, as he has always professed his love for hip-hop. This is the second installment of the Sexcapades of the Hopeless Robotic trilogy, the first coming out in the summer of 2018.
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September Mourning – Volume III EP
The band’s lead singer Emily Lazar has a very unique image, in the last few years, she has been almost always white from head to toe. She is also involved in the run of Image Comics that bear the band’s name. If you’re into modern radio friendly hard rock, this may be worth your wilde checking out.
Oni – Alone EP
The band returns with an ep, that is more like a stepping stone to new music that they promise to release shortly. It mixes what people have come to love from the band, a mix of modern prog metal, mixing guttural vocals with clean melodies, overtop of the detuned bombast of the band’s playing.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Watchmen OST Vol. 3
A few weeks back we posted about Vol. 2, here’s Reznor and Ross’ instrumental cover of the David Bowie classic “Life On Mars”:
Queens Of The Stone Age – Era Vulgaris Vinyl Reissue
The most shocking thing about this reissue is that the title track, which features Trent Reznor’s vocals has been omitted from this rerelease, as it’s possibly my favorite track off of the album, even though it didn’t make the original cut. This album features the songs “Sick, Sick, Sick”, “Misfit Love”, “Make It wit Chu”, and “3’s & 7’s”.
Queens Of The Stone Age – Lullabies To Paralyze Vinyl Reissue
This is the first post-Nick Oliveri album by Queens. Given the popularity of Songs For The Deaf, this album received a ton of carry over exposure. Tracks off of this album ended up on video channels, video games, movies, etc. The album features the songs “Medication”, “Everybody Knows That You’re Insane”, “Burn the Witch”, “In My Head”, and “Little Sister”.
Halestorm – Halestorm 10th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue
The band is re-releasing their debut album with a ton of extra content. The second album contains unreleased material, demos, and alternate versions of tracks off of the album.
Frank Zappa – The Hot Rats Session Reissue
This reissue celebrates the 50th anniversary of the albums original release. The album is being reissues on pink vinyl, and a six CD edition.