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Staff picks


Metal Church - Blessing In Disguise
29.07.2021 | Heavy/Thrash/Power

As talented a vocalist as David Wayne was, his departure from Metal Church was a true blessing in disguise, for it opened the door for the man who has always been my favorite MC vocalist: Mike Howe. His distortion was beautiful, his articulation was savage, and he was one of the proudest members of the lineage of gravel-voiced frontmen alongside folks like Zetro and Bobby Blitz. Even after 20 years of absence, when he reunited with Metal Church for XI and Damned If You Do, two very strong late-career records, Mike's tone was still rich and his delivery forceful. At only 55, he sadly joins the ranks of those gone from us too soon

Blessing In Disguise has long been in competition with the self-titled album for my favorite Metal Church work, and while of course the killer riffs and rhythm work throughout make it solid gold, Mike's shredded howl sells every song so well. Perhaps I should have picked The Human Factor as a tribute, because Mike truly had a human factor in his singing that drove the lyrics to the heart more than your average head-bangers could, especially on that album, but Blessing In Disguise has "Badlands," one of my all-time favorite songs, and there's not much better you can do than that.

Rest in peace, Mike.
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ScreamingSteelUS
Dream Taster, RaduP, Deadsoulman, Starvynth, Daniell, nikarg, corrupt, BitterCOld
ZZ Top - Eliminator
28.07.2021 | Blues Rock Meets The 80s

Eliminator was the first tape I ever bought back when I was BitterCYoung. Perfect for it's time and place, mixed classic blues rock and shuffle with the technological and stylistic shifts music was making at the time. These Tres Hombres were THE coolest dudes on eMpTy-Vee. I even sported the ZZ key chain for a good 20+ years thanks to the vid for "Gimme All Your Loving"... never did score the bad ass hot rod, though. So adios to Dusty Hill, thanks for some great bass lines and anchoring the Top. All you beer drinkers and hell raisers out there know what to do.

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BitterCOld
ScreamingSteelUS, Dream Taster, RaduP, Deadsoulman, Daniell, nikarg, corrupt, Abattoir
Slipknot - Iowa
28.07.2021 

#1 passed away this week. An absolute legend of a musician and artist of the beat to the soundtrack of a whole generation's anger and rage. Few bands today will be what Slipknot was for millennials around the turn of the century and Joey Jordison was one of their driving forces for almost 20 years. Rest in peace you magnificent person. Many a night of teenage angst is now also a testament to your memory. And this album, at least for me, towers over those times. The symbol of a confused yet maturing generation trying to find its place in this world.
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corrupt
RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, X-Ray Rod, BitterCOld, ScreamingSteelUS, Dream Taster, Deadsoulman, Daniell, Abattoir, Darkside Momo
Pig Destroyer - Prowler In The Yard
26.07.2021 | God-tier Grindcore
Bandcamp music player

I passed out for two days after celebrating the 20th anniverssary of this modern classic of the genre. Prowler In The Yard is, simply put, what most modern grindcore bands aspire to be. By the time of its release, Pig Destroyer where only trio with only two instruments at their disposal. But they still outclassed most bands in every aspect of the game. Genuinely unsettling vocals and lyrics, a near infinite amount of innovative riffs, and intense drumming that truly cemented their frightening sound. Prowler In The Yard's atmosphere is so caustic that no amount of hot showers will make it go away.

This is beautiful. This is art.

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X-Ray Rod
RaduP
Beastlor - Galaxies Of Death
12.07.2021 | Light-disrespecting black metal
Bandcamp music player

Beastlor is the one-man black metal project of Mick Barr, mostly known through Krallice and Encenathrakh, and Galaxies Of Death is an adventurous sonic journey into the world of contemporary black metal done right. One can only admire the flow of inspiration and the abundance of ideas, present from start to finish; from the riff factory that is "Ignorant Sin" to the avant-garde and progressive black metal masterpiece that is the closing title track. In between lie four songs balancing intricate atonality with blazing riffology in a way that is unconventional but also palpable and comprehensive. The undeniable apex is "Become The Planet", with its swirling dissonance being driven by a demented lead guitar which offers one of the finest metal moments of 2021, equally grand and memorable as Bølzer's "Entranced By The Wolfshook". Yes, it is that good.
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nikarg
RaduP, Deadsoulman
Type O Negative - Slow, Deep And Hard
18.06.2021 | Pissed Off Vampire

I missed the anniversary by two days, but 30 years ago, Peter Steele took the rotting carcass of Carnivore to channel the feelings post bitter betrayal and suicide attempt to create one of the most vile and hateful albums out there. This is basically the only gothic thrash album I can think of. It moves from organ dirges, slow doom riffs, gang vocals spouting "He knows you're fucking someone else", blistering crossover energy, and Steele's character going through unsuccessfully coping with his predicament and emotions.
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RaduP
Mr. Doctor, nikarg, Daniell, Starvynth, Dream Taster
Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
10.06.2021 | Candlemassive
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In 1986, when every band tried their hardest to be faster than the rest, Candlemass showed the world that the words 'heavy' and 'speed' don't always have to go together. The low end, the deep sound, and the darkness brought by the hand of doom was unparalleled on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and remains like that up to this day. Nothing has ever come close to the sheer brilliance of this album in 35 years. More classic than the classics. More epic than the epics.

Doom. Metal. Perfection.

"Earth to earth
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
And please let me die in solitude..."

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nikarg
RaduP, Deadsoulman, ScreamingSteelUS, Daniell, Starvynth, Mr. Doctor, Darkside Momo, Nefarious
Bathory - Blood On Ice
27.05.2021 | Viking metal

For many years, an old tape from 1988/89 lay dormant somewhere in the vaults of Quorthon's Heavenshore Studio, and it was probably due to the pressure and the pestering of his fans that exactly 25 years ago - on May 27, 1996 - these almost forgotten recordings were finally allowed to see the light of day.
Thank God Odin!
For even if Bathory's ninth studio album is somewhat overshadowed by previous milestones such as Blood Fire Death and Hammerheart, it is nevertheless one of the most important albums in Bathory's impressive discography. Because on the one hand, it marks the departure from the widely unpopular retro-thrash phase of Requiem and Octagon, and on the other hand, it is a return to Quorthon's true strengths: timeless Viking metal ballads such as "Man Of Iron", "The Woodwoman" and "The Lake", and epic battle hymns like "Gods Of Thunder Of Wind And Of Rain".

"Realms of the shadows bring me no fear
I may stand or be beaten and torn
The mountains will stand but the life of a man
Was decided long before he was born."


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Starvynth
RaduP, ScreamingSteelUS, Deadsoulman, nikarg
Neurosis - Through Silver In Blood
21.05.2021 | Sludge
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Wow. Some 25 years ago this slab of sludge so heavy that merely playing it aloud causes such rumbling deep below the Earth's surface that the tectonic plates themselves move. Raw, visceral power. Literature cites three forms of conflict - man vs man, man vs self, man and man vs nature. Time to add another to the list... Man vs music.

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BitterCOld
Deadsoulman, musclassia, Mr. Doctor, Daniell, RaduP, Darkside Momo
Warlord - And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun...
19.05.2021 | Genuine heavy metal magic

Featuring four songs that were part of the astounding debut EP, Deliver Us, the album And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun... is nothing less than monumental. Combining the skilful drumming of Mark Zonder, who would later join Fates Warning, and the goosebumps-inducing guitar melodies of Bill Tsamis that were brimming with lyricism, it is the perfect heavy metal album. The term 'underrated' is often used and is rarely as justified as in this band's case. Warlord never received commercial success, although they thoroughly deserved it. To quote Mark Zonder: "Not taking anything away from any of the great artists that I have had the honor and privilege to play with over the years, but I can say without thinking twice Bill was the most talented and dedicated guy I ever met. Obviously great musician, the world knows that, but just a great guy to hang with. Funny and very intelligent. One of the most humble people you would meet. Very matter of fact but never over the line and never handing out BS. Just straight up. Without Bill Tsamis and Warlord I have no idea of where I would be today. This was the beginning and I owe him everything. Thank you for showing me the way."

If you have never listened to this album, it is never too late to discover one of the masterpieces of heavy metal. If you already know it, play it once more to honour this great guitarist's memory. And don't forget to check out his other band, Lordian Guard.

Rest in peace, Mr. Tsamis. The cannons of destruction will never cease, the music lives forever.
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nikarg
RaduP, ScreamingSteelUS, BitterCOld
Jours Pâles - Éclosion
12.05.2021 | 50 shades of black
Bandcamp music player

Born from the ashes of Asphodèle and choosing the title of that band's only album as their name, Jours Pâles is the new black metal project of Spellbound, also of Aorlhac fame. This is black metal that incorporates so many different shades of it; atmospheric black, post-black, melodic black, depressive black, blackgaze, and even black thrash at times. A gothic and melancholic aura hovers over it but less so than how prominent it was on Asphodèle because Éclosion has a more rocking / metal character due to its songwriting choices and the guitar playing of James Sloan (Uada). With Christian Larsson's (Gloson, ex-Shining) amazing bass lines and the expressive vocals of Spellbound singing lyrics in French, Jours Pâles demonstrate an impressive ability to make the different aspects of their sound feel special on their own but also to make the sum equally engaging as its parts. For a fusion of aggressive and depressive black metal, this is as good as it gets.
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nikarg
RaduP, Starvynth, corrupt, Dream Taster
Sepultura - Arise
26.03.2021 | Under a pale grey sky, we shall Arise!

Arise is the final chapter of one of the most celebrated trilogies in the history of thrash metal. The death metal element of Sepultura's previous albums is toned down and in its place we find industrial touches with the use of samples and sound effects. Raw fury and breakneck death/thrash is still present but it is now complemented by big chunks of mid-tempo, heavy groove. The Brazilian / tribal approach in the drumming is a standout and original feature, and the drums got extra attention by the production of Scott Burns which is one of the best he ever did. The mix by Andy Wallace makes it sound killer still after all these years, slightly favouring the percussion and the lead guitar parts. The cover art by Michael Whelan reminisces Obituary's Cause Of Death, maybe because Sepultura were still gutted because that cover was initially planned to be used for Beneath The Remains but Roadrunner Records had convinced them to go with the red skull. When it came out exactly 30 years ago, Arise was a perfect and very forward-thinking thrash metal album. Its immense value for the style can be appreciated simply considering that the same would be said about it, if it were released today.

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nikarg
RaduP, Deadsoulman, Dream Taster, Starvynth, ScreamingSteelUS, Mr. Doctor, Darkside Momo
Jethro Tull - Aqualung
19.03.2021 | Progressive Rock

Back in the early 70's, metal was just in its infancy, not yet able to walk on its own feet. For most of that decade, not much other than Black Sabbath were heavy enough to be called metal, but heavy music was still abound, at least by the decade's standard. Jethro Tull would end up snatching a Grammy from Metallica, but Aqualung finds a band that can write some heavy guitars, but their progressive rock is most of all whimsical, comical, vulgar, clever, and witty. The image of Ian Anderson standing on one leg playing flute is just as iconic as the riffs on "Cross-Eyed Mary" or "Aqualung". It's a fantastic album even regardless of its connections to metal, one of the best prog rock albums period, almost best Jethro Tull album, and released exactly 50 years ago today.
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RaduP
nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, Dream Taster, Daniell
Paradise Lost - Gothic
19.03.2021 | The one and only true Goth
Bandcamp music player

As fresh-sounding as Lost Paradise was, its doom death metal style was not something that hadn't been tried before. But thirty years ago, Paradise Lost unleashed the first and greatest - still to this day - gothic death metal album. Albeit engulfed in darkness, Gothic has a 'lighter' guitar approach than its predecessor, relying very much on the eerie lead melodies instead of on the earth-shattering riffs of the debut. The ethereal female vocals and the creepy keyboards made it an even more divisive affair among the fans and most people dismissed the band at the time for "selling out". Luckily, this band never cared about metalheads' opinions and they made it very clear from very early in their career. Gothic is the pinnacle of gothic metal and Paradise Lost's most groundbreaking album in a tremendously successful career characterized by groundbreaking albums.

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nikarg
RaduP, Starvynth, Deadsoulman, Mr. Doctor, Dream Taster, Darkside Momo
Opeth - Blackwater Park
12.03.2021 | Pure, Unadulterated Passion
Bandcamp music player

It's hard to believe that human civilization peaked on March 12, 2001, but we of Metal Storm are well aware of the fact that Opeth's Blackwater Park is the single most important and amazing work of art ever to grace our unworthy human senses - and today this pillar of sonic achievement turns 20 years old.

Now, iconic reviews aside, I don't actually believe that Blackwater Park is the greatest album ever released - in fact, it's not even my favorite Opeth album - but there's no denying that it is a milestone in its genre, easily one of the definitive recordings of progressive metal. It ranks among the most significant and influential works in its sphere, standing tall even within Opeth's discography; with a career practically founded on the production of successive magna opera, Opeth will likely never have a single, incontrovertible outlier to be crowned their best, but Blackwater Park does have something like a mythology surrounding it. Maybe you don't have to treat it like the apex of heavy metal, but it's still a damn good progressive death metal record that we can all enjoy, and what more reason do you need to give it a spin?

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ScreamingSteelUS
RaduP, musclassia, Starvynth, corrupt, Deadsoulman, Daniell, Mr. Doctor, Dream Taster