Staff picks


Saxon - Strong Arm Of The Law
14.11.2020 | British heavy metal thunder

1980 is the year that was generous enough to give us the debut albums / masterpieces by Iron Maiden, Diamond Head and Angel Witch. It was also the time that Saxon released their two (!) greatest records, Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law, thus making 1980 the year that marked the explosion of New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Today is the 40th anniversary of "Heavy Metal Thunder", "20,000 Ft", "Dallas 1PM" and the other five heavy metal anthems of Strong Arm Of The Law, which makes it a great opportunity to blast this all-killer-no-filler album in its entirety.
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nikarg
RaduP
The Bipolar Disorder Project - Anna
09.11.2020 | Avant-garde / Progressive Metal

Yesterday I was greeted by the tragic news of Robert Cotoros' passing. I didn't personally know him, but I know a lot of people who did, and it was indeed a really great loss for the music community in my country. Though his talents would find him as a producer more often than a musician, his musical career would find him guesting on the latest E-an-na album, being a longtime member of Hteththemeth, and releasing a collaborative split with Karmic Thread (review here); but all pale in comparison with Anna, the labor of love project concept album that was 6 years in the making. Meticulous and creative beyond belief, the progressive and slightly avant-garde metal of it is something I wish would have lead to an even more matured follow-up. That will never happen now.

R.I.P. Robert Cotoros (1994-2020)

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RaduP
nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, BitterCOld, Dream Taster
Motörhead - Ace Of Spades
28.10.2020 | Lemmy

So this turned 40 years old this week... so pour yourself a pint of Jack & Coke and crank it up. (Didn't feel any additional text to pimp or promote the album was needed. Either you have it and love it or may the Ghost of Lemmy stalk you forever.)

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BitterCOld
RaduP, Apothecary, nikarg, Daniell, ScreamingSteelUS, Darkside Momo
Autonoesis - Autonoesis
17.10.2020 | Prog/tech/melo/death/black thrasher

This debut album by Autonoesis from Canada is a stellar blend of technical thrash metal with progressive and melodic death/black metal, and it is one of these rare cases that the record gets better and better with every listen. Imagine Voivod, Coroner, Death and Dissection jamming together and churning out invigorating and acrobatic riffs, as well as eclectic and emotional melodies, with a strong progressive undertow. This is an independent release so the sound could be improved and the complex character and songwriting calls for a real drummer rather than a drum machine but, frankly, this is a damn great album, especially considering that it came from out of nowhere.

Name your price and get it on Bandcamp right now.
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nikarg
RaduP, Dream Taster, Starvynth, ScreamingSteelUS
Pull Down The Sun - Of Valleys And Mountains
15.10.2020 | Progressive Post-Metal

The influences from the like of Gojira and The Ocean are easy to spot, but Pull Down The Sun take those influences to produce something that stands strong by itself; Of Valleys And Mountains is a fantastic debut effort from these Kiwis.

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musclassia
BitterCOld, RaduP, Apothecary, Ag Fox
Van Halen - 1984
13.10.2020 | Classic Rock

Not my fave Van Halen, but my first. BMG Tape of the Month club, 2nd album I ever owned after ZZ Top Eliminator... So many great memories tied to this album, ranging from my one of my first beers while on a motorboat trip down the Colorado River to being my somewhat obvious sound track when Mrs COld and I visited Colombia's neighbor to the north two years ago. Thanks for the shred, the tapping and the tone, Eddie.
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BitterCOld
Starvynth, nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, RaduP, Daniell, Apothecary, Dream Taster
Electric Wizard - Dopethrone
11.10.2020 | Stoner Doom Metal

On the 9th of October I was grooving and passing out continously with this album on the background, hence the two days delay in celebrating the 20 years anniversary of this beast of an album.
This is considered by many to be the band's magnum opus and it's not difficult to see why given how songs like "Funeralopolis" have reached the status of modern classics. From catchy sludge tunes to drawn-out dirges of the drone variety, Dopethrone pummels through with dirty and distorted riffs, redefining the heavyness of stoner metal. Approach with caution, though:

When you get into one of these groups, there's only a couple of ways you can get out: one is death, the other is mental institutions...
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Mr. Doctor
RaduP, musclassia
Van Halen - Van Halen
07.10.2020 | Songs for the Electric Guitar

For generations, ever since his explosive debut with this legendary album, Eddie Van Halen has been synonymous with the electric guitar. With the runaway success of Van Halen and the wild, high-energy rock/metal combination the band purveyed in so many hit singles, Eddie became one of the most visible and respected shredders of the '70s and '80s; his most lasting contribution to the craft may be the popularization of tapping, especially of the two-handed variety, and he expressed a familiarity with pinch harmonics, sliding, vibrato, and other techniques that had yet to be fully mined by his genre, but beyond that he wrapped the spotlight around himself and pushed the art of guitar-playing into a new plane of excess. From his distinctive tone to his knack for riff-writing to his seemingly effortless facility with his instrument, Eddie was a monumental figure, the gold standard for hard rock and glam metal in his heyday and even now one of the faces of the guitar to the world at large. We shouldn't forget how he pushed the envelope even further with his daring use of synthesizers on "Jump" and his collaboration with Michael Jackson on "Beat It," but it is this album that more than any illustrates why people have always talked about Eddie Van Halen as a revelatory force.

"Eruption" is a notorious benchmark of technical prowess, as iconic as "Smoke On The Water" or "Iron Man" but for a higher skill set, and songs like "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" and "Runnin' With The Devil" boast some of the most recognizable riffs of the decade; the name "Van Halen" itself has become an antonomasia to describe a musically skilled showman. Even the design of his trademark "Frankenstrat" has developed into an image and a brand all its own. I may not be the biggest Van Halen fan out there, but it's impossible to deny the status that Eddie enjoyed in the musical world and the sway he held over generations of players; I'm glad I was able to see him once and watch him live up to that reputation.

RIP Eddie.

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ScreamingSteelUS
musclassia, D.T. Metal, RaduP, nikarg, BitterCOld, Daniell, Dream Taster, Starvynth
Dukatalon - Involuntary Action
06.10.2020 | Sludge
Bandcamp music player

I'd like to thank Dukatalon for giving me 10 years to recover from the beating I suffered at the hands of Saved By Fear. Cheers. Only took me 10 months this go around from the pummeling to recover enough strength to type a staff pick for Involuntary Action. Good, fun pounding music, just like Bob's Sludge Bunker, they play both kinds, fast and slow. Should be a voluntary action on your part to run to bandcamp and check this out.

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BitterCOld
musclassia, Troy Killjoy
Killing Joke - Killing Joke
05.10.2020 | Industrial Post-Punk

Quite akin to the previous album I staff picked, this is a release by a band before they became metal. It would be another 10 years before the industrial part of Killing Joke's sound became rough enough to warrant the "industrial metal" tag, but even from the beginning their cold and mechanical post-punk oozed of the sounds of industrial music, though more focused on barrages of bass, cold and anxious atmospheres, and feverishly angry vocals. It laid the groundwork for industrial rock 40 years ago today, though its influence was even more far reaching than that, and you could say that it ranks among those albums who inspired everyone who heard them. Even if Killing Joke committed the cardinal sin of having two non-consecutive self-titled albums.
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RaduP
BitterCOld, nikarg, Daniell, Darkside Momo
Delain - Apocalypse & Chill
04.10.2020 | Pop Metal

Don't judge a book by its cover. Apocalypse & Chill's title is a clear reference to the contemporary 'Netflix and Chill' trend, and the album cover is trying to depict our preoccupation to look gorgeous and take selfies while the world out there is on fire. Great idea, not so great execution. No matter what you think of the album cover and the antithesis it is trying to highlight, the music of Delain's latest is hitting the nail on the head; it takes modern metal guitar hooks that sound really heavy at times and adorns them with keyboards, chorals and symphonic elements in a very balanced manner. Apocalypse & Chill stays strong throughout its runtime, featuring its best material in the second half. Make sure to check out Charlotte's duet with Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black) on "Vengeance", the super heavy "Creatures" with its chorus nodding to Queen's "The Show Must Go On", the absolutely epic "Masters Of Destiny" and the djenty (not joking) instrumental "Combustion".
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nikarg
RaduP, D.T. Metal, Ag Fox, Dream Taster
Fields Of The Nephilim - Elizium
28.09.2020 | Gothic Rock

Not only did we miss this album's 30th anniversary by a couple of days, but this is also an album from before the band became metal (the opposite of what most bands are doing). Though Fields Of The Nephilim would start becoming more "brutal" with the next albums, it can't be understated how influential their gothic rock phase was to the soon-to-emerge gothic metal scene (which they would eventually join in a feedback loop of influence). Elizium is the apex of Fields Of The Nephilim's gothic rock sound, and honestly of gothic rock in general, at least out of the bits we have here. Dark, ominous, romantic, and magick. And even by goth rock standards, very atmospheric. It isn't hard to get why this was so influential, and why Fields Of The Nephilim have a Metal Storm page (and might've still had one even without their later albums) and The Sisters Of Mercy don't. All while we hope there would be another record sometime in the future.

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RaduP
Mr. Doctor, nikarg, Daniell, BitterCOld
The Ocean - Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic / Cenozoic
27.09.2020 | Progressive Post-Metal

A bit later than expected, but we finally have the second part of the Phanerozoic project from The Ocean, and a worthy sibling to Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic it is. "Jurassic | Cretaceous" in particular is a fantastic demonstration of what this collective are capable of.

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musclassia
RaduP, Ivor, Dream Taster, Ag Fox
Megadeth - Rust In Peace
24.09.2020 | Mind-blowing Thrasher / Classic Banger

Exactly 30 years ago, on September 24th, Rust In Peace was unleashed upon the world and had the impact of an atomic bomb. Just before thrash metal's demise, Megadeth released a magnificent masterpiece that was at the same time so aggressive yet dexterous, so catchy yet progressive, so melodic yet gritty, that it would be considered groundbreaking even if it was released today. Alongside the two Daves, Rust in Peace was the first Megadeth album to feature lead guitarist Marty Friedman and the late Nick Menza on drums, thus undoubtedly forming the most talented line-up the band ever had. Titles like "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", "Hangar 18", and "Tornado Of Souls" are carved with golden letters on the Book of Thrash's Legendary Tracks. To be consumed incessantly and irresponsibly until nuclear warfare wipes us off the face of this planet.

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nikarg
RaduP, Starvynth, ScreamingSteelUS, Troy Killjoy, Dream Taster, Darkside Momo, Daniell
Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard Of Ozz
20.09.2020 | Heavy Metal

I wouldn't want to crowd the main page with three anniversary staff picks, but Lee Kerslake's passing just one day shy of this album's 40th anniversary led me to realize how much Ozzy Osbourne struck gold with the lineup of this album. Kickstarting a career that would lead him from metal pioneer to Prince Of Darkness, Blizzard Of Ozz not only has some of the best songs of his career (but some questionable ones too), but also some of the best musicians: Randy Rhoads just a few years before his untimely passing, Don Airey, Bob Daisley, and, though his Uriah Heep career might be the more interesting of the bunch, there's no denying how much Lee Kerslake's drumming elevates this album as well.

That said, what the hell is a "bone movie"?

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RaduP
nikarg, Daniell