As fitting for such an enigmatic entity, the sixth album from Speed Metal legends Agent Steel has been released under some rather bizarre circumstances. In addition to being the first album to feature their original vocalist John Cyriis since 1987’s Unstoppable Force, he also ends up being the only original member left in the band after the fallout of their last reunion. Subsequent live festival debacles and his eccentric responses to preemptive concerns regarding this album’s quality certainly haven’t helped matters, leaving fans to wonder whether it will be a return to form or an insane conundrum.
Theatrical Rock troupe Puscifer never does anything small and never has. Everything they do feels like an event level thing in an “it’s all happening” way. In the early days of the band, it was singles and EP’s before their debut album. Then it was a Paul Frank clothing drop or a few shows. Now, even in these trying times choking the music industry, the band finds creative ways to top themselves. They just released their new album, Existential Reckoning (read our review here) and for Halloween, they shared a visually striking, possibly insane, and high-quality multi-media livestream performance, Existential Reckoning – Live at The Arcosanti in the Arizona desert.
Overlooking their first three widely celebrated albums (at least for now), the latest remasters courtesy of Noise Records arrive in the form of the final two studio releases from thrashers, Coroner. Continue reading
If you take anything from the new album by Spanish outfit Dark Moor, it’s that they really believe in the existence of extraterrestrials. Flying at improbable speeds and covered in bright flashing lights, their latest flying saucer shaped release, Project X (Scarlet) will capture you in its tractor beam and transport you to an alternate dimension where cheesy ’70s and ’80s influenced Power/Prog rules the galaxy from its bejewelled, golden intergalactic space throne.
After the conclusion of short intro ‘November 3023’, the first proper track, ‘Abduction’ takes over, and although containing nothing new or hugely remarkable (and sounding a little too much like Within Temptation‘s ‘Stand My Ground’ for a while), is still a nice, pacey little number with just the right amount of keyboard and choral backing, while singer Alfred Romero‘s vocals are clear and earnest in their delivery. The opening piano strains of ‘Beyond the Stars’ may get people of a certain age picturing a denim clad Bill Bixby walking alongside a lonely highway, wearing a brown jacket with a backpack slung over his shoulder, trying to control the raging spirit which dwells within him. The track soon changes up a gear though, and with the help of some female backing vocals, quickly turns into a space age version of Grease, complete with a stupidly infectious ‘Greased Lightning’ chorus.
With mentions of Area 51 and Men in Black, ‘Conspiracy Revealed’ opens with a riff reminiscent of Adam Khachaturian‘s ‘Sabre Dance’ and you can almost picture Mulder and Scully putting their differences with the Cigarette Smoking Man aside for five minutes while they all dance their little socks off with big grins and hand jives. Things slow down for a while during ‘I Want to Believe’ as Mulder and Scully dance together slowly, staring into each others eyes, while The Lone Gunmen hold lighters in the air and The Cigarette Smoking Man trudges off into the darkness, alone and muttering threats about abductions and alien implants.
‘Bon Voyage!’ has another movie musical vibe, part Grease and part Rocky Horror Picture Show with a hand-clap section (which bizarrely works), Queen style backing vocals and the most Brian May of all guitar solos, with even a couple of jaunty “WOOOs!” thrown in for good measure, meanwhile probably the heaviest track on the record, ‘Imperial Earth’, features a beefy riff, powerful vocals, big drums and a couple of spoken voice sections reminiscent of those in ‘Flash’ by Queen when dialogue from the film occasionally comes crashing in. It would come as no surprise to absolutely anyone if ‘Imperial Earth’ was to suddenly erupt with cries of “dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body!”
Blatantly stealing that tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, penultimate track ‘Gabriel’ is steady but unspectacular, and really only memorable for that bit of musical pilfery. Things pick up for the grand finale, though, and the album ends with ‘There’s Something In The Skies’, a wonderfully overblown eight minute Prog sandwich, literally dripping with cheese and melodrama.
A more streamlined affair than a lot of Dark Moor’s previous work, some fans may be disappointed with how the band have dialled back the orchestral and female vocal side of things, but the record contains enough quality to keep most people happy and maybe even bring a few new fans into the fold because of it.
I don’t know about you, but, I turn into a kid on Christmas morning whenever a band I love announces a new album so I’m sure you can imagine the sheer joy that consumed my being when I finally got my greedy little paws on this gem. Friends, she is a beauty. If I could get away with just transcribing my excited squeals and witch-like cackling as I listened to this album, I would.
In all seriousness, stoner metal masters High on Fire return this summer with the highly anticipated Luminiferous (eOne) and it is worth every penny. Luminiferous is both strange and different and yet fits into the band’s prior body of work very well. ‘The Black Plot’ and “The Sunless Years’ are have been fantastic singles but can we just talk about the gift that is ‘Carcosa’ for a second? This track has been one of my favorites from the beginning. It’s heavy and filled with hypnotic riffs and a beautiful guitar solo that just completely draw you in.
‘Slave the Hive’ is an absolute shredder with its quick tempo and Jeff Matz’s throbbing bass lines. You can just tell that this is going to be one of those songs where you can feel the bass weaving its way through your bones and organs. Yes, please. This track takes the concepts of the hive mind and sheeple created by society and the mass media and puts them to music. The end of the song is almost a bit unnerving as it is punctuated by the faintest laugh just before it ends.
Des Kensel’s pounding drums open ‘The Dark Side of the Compass’ and what seems to be a tribute to the Bermuda Triangle. There are so many bands out there that only write songs about their love lives or childhood that I find it refreshing when someone does something different. Tell me about aliens and weird stuff and the mysteries of the universe. With its lyrics referencing lost ships, portals, and the supernatural as a whole, I know what to listen to the next I find myself flying over the Devil’s Triangle again next year. If I’m going to die, it’s going to be with Matt Pike crooning in my ear.
‘The Cave’ is easily another favorite of mine, even if it is soft and slow compared to the rest of the album but that’s precisely why I find myself drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I’m not usually a fan of ballad-esque songs as they tend to be far too cheesy for my liking but ‘The Cave’ is genuine rather than feeling forced. There is so much emotion contained in this song that it is almost palpable and I really enjoyed seeing this other side of the band. You can keep your ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and its millions of clones, I’ll take ‘The Cave’ any day.
Luminiferous is, at times, both lighter and heavier than previous albums and the risks that the band took when putting it together have paid off. I’ll leave my personal interpretations out of this but the English major in me just wants to sit around and discuss lyrics, connections, and themes for a few hours. The boys have put out one monster of a record and, if you couldn’t tell by now, I am extremely pleased. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, get yourself a gallon of Pike Juice instead and keep an eye out for an upcoming tour date near you.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE
When a band describes themselves as “music for troubled weirdos”, it’s pretty safe to assume we don’t have the next incarnation of Mötley Crüe on our hands. Brooklyn-based trio Meek is Murder look like they would be happier engaging in a mammoth World of Warcraft session then doing blow with hookers on the Sunset Strip but that’s not to say the music they make won’t get one hell of a party started, for new double EP release Onward/Into the Sun (Rising Pulse) is one of the most exciting things you’ll hear all year.
Known for their blink and you’ll miss it song lengths seemingly tailor made for the ADHD brigade, Meek is Murder play a raucous style of mathcore that will have fans of early Botch and Converge foaming at the mouth with wide-eyed delight. It’s no surprise that the band has previously worked with producer extraordinaire Kurt Ballou, for his influence is all over the brief tracks that comprise first EP Onward, from the lurching dissonance of ‘Foreword’ to the manic violence of ‘Downward’ which features some seriously heavy drumming and a devastating false ending that will have circle pits erupting in any sweaty basement it is dropped live.
The other EP in this release Into the Sun actually came out in 2012 so the re-issue here is a welcome one to those who missed out the first time. A tribute to classic 80s sci-fi flicks Aliens and Back to the Future, this effort is a tad more emotive and plays around with slower tempos than Onward, but is still madder than a box of frogs as the hyperactive ‘Doctor Emmett Brown (Endless in Our Fleeting)’ demonstrates.
This kind of hardcore works best in short, sharp snippets and Meek is Murder have clearly done their homework. At only fifteen minutes in length but with more going on than it’s possible to mention, Onward/Into the Sun shows a band bursting with ideas and incapable of sitting still.
Ever since they emerged onto the UK death metal scene back in 2006 like a hungry chest-burster from the Alien films, Manchester’s Ingested have been the band to turn to for straight-up brutality. After early flirtations with deathcore on debut album Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering and the slightly weak follow-up The Surreption, the band seem to have nailed a truly killer sound on third full-length The Architect of Extinction (all Siege of Amida Records).
Opening tracks ‘The Divine Right of Kings’ and ‘Narcissistic Apathy’ are both finely tuned monstrosities that are solely interested in repeatedly smashing you over the head with a selection of vicious, pacy riffs and clattering blasts of percussion. The main influence here is strictly the new school of death metal with an appreciation of Aborted and Whitechapel evident in the songwriting. This is further demonstrated by the barely restrained fury of ‘Endless Despondency’ which utilises every trick in the book to get heads banging and roundhouse kicks flying in equal measure.
While this ‘more is more’ approach is undeniably a forceful one, there is always the danger that this method can render proceedings dull as atmosphere and nuance gets sacrificed for the sake of bludgeon. Thankfully Ingested avoid falling into this trap by varying things up a bit such as on the moody ‘I, Despoiler’ and post-metal flavoured instrumental ‘Penance’ which provides an interesting sidestep into more leftfield territory. However, the searing heaviness returns with a vengeance on later tracks such as ‘Extinction Event’ which really allows powerhouse drummer Lyn Jeffs to show off his chops.
For those seeking an instant way to blow away their New Years hangovers, Ingested are the perfect tonic. They’re the equivalent of a kebab shop stabbing; horrible, shocking and over before you know it and The Architect of Extinction is as vicious as anything else out on the street right now.
Heavy Metal Movies (Bazillion Points), written by Mike “Beardo” McPadden is a project the likes of which any metal geek-movie geek fusion would be proud to have accomplished in their lives; proof that they have indeed seen more movies than you, and can tell you how headbangingly awesome each is in their own way. Indeed, this titanic titanium tome does indeed show, rather than tell the sheer amount of neck-snapping cinematography observed by one man needed to even dare a book of this lethal thickness. From A to Z, it’s an outpouring of movie mayhem and magick from teenage stoner boners to Nordic loners; rockumentaries and mockumentaries; canon appearances by the metal gods on screen and on record; from swords to spaceships, and from monsters to Manson (Editor’s note: both Charles and Marilyn), this book packs it all in, dating from the silent era Nosferatu (1922) to the modern Hollywood bombast of The Hobbit (2012) and a whole hell of a lot of stuff in between that inspired distortion, patched denim, leather, and poor hygiene worldwide.