As I said in my previous post, 2013 is shaping up to be a very metal year. This time around, I’m here to extol the virtues of six (a much more metal number than five) excellent new/upcoming metal releases, ranging from the sweet old school sounds of yesterday, to new metal sounds from up and coming bands. So read on, and please turn up your speakers. For what lies ahead must be listened to loudly, the way metal mother nature intended.
Out March 25th, Norway’s Kvelertak will put out an impressive bit of heaviness with their second full-length, Meir. A black metal band by definition, Kvelertak (which means “stranglehold” or “choke hold” in Norwegian), infuses their sound with equal parts darkness, good old fashioned high-powered vocals, endless guitars, and Maiden-esque percussion.
Choke hold’s aside, Meir is all but clear of black metal’s typical gloom and doom. Still, the record sounds pretty brutal. Created in the witch capital of the world, Salem, Massachusetts at GodCity Studios, Kvelertak also recorded Meir in their native Norwegian tongue. A multi-layered recording at it heart, Kvelertak seamlessly blends their bone-crunching melodic metal groove with nostalgic sounds from metal days gone by. The power-chords and riffs are fast and upbeat, keeping Meir awash in massive waves of metal adrenaline. Simply put, Meir is the kind of record that would make Armored Saint’s collective toes curl. And, keeping true to their headbanging form, the last track on Meir heralds the band’s name, and is an unapologetic, bic-thumb-up, balls-out anthem.
Without a doubt, Meir will be on many a metal head’s top ten list this year, and has quickly become my favorite metal release to date. Norwegian based label, Indie Recordings, plans to release Meir on vinyl, worldwide. As of this writing, you can listen to Meir it in its entirety, here. Look for Kverletak live this spring with fellow heavies, Savannah Georgia’s Black Tusk, and the Cancer Bats.
VHÖL is comprised of members of several great metal bands. Eugene band, YOB, Hammers of Misforune, and Worm, to name a few. Which makes it unlikely that their upcoming untitled debut record (mixed by the equally metal engineer/producer Randall Dunn in Seattle) will be anything but stellar. Out on April 16th via Profound Lore Records, both of the tracks the band has generously streamed this past week on Sound Cloud, Illuminate and Grace, are swirling full of crunchy, strap-on-your-speed-belt, metal. And since I’ve already professed my love of YOB out loud, I’m ready to embrace VHÖL. Head on.
There has been a lot of excitement around Black Star Riders. And it’s understandable. Ex-members of the revered Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders just released the first single from their new record, Bound for Glory last week. I’m not usually a big fan of the do-it-again-band, especially when a key element in the band is gone. In this case, one of metal’s greatest frontmen, Phil Lynott. But Glory gives me enough hope that this record will be as strong as it’s first single. And Ricky Warnick’s vocals sound right and tight. Look for All Hell Breaks Loose out on the always metal Nuclear Blast Records, on May 27th.
Saxon is back.
Yes, this Saxon. The only Saxon. The Saxon that never left, refused to cut their hair, let it turn gray, and has kept churning out great metal since they came together in 1979. Sacrifice is Saxon’s 20th studio release, and is textbook classic, head-banging heavy metal. Vocalist Biff Byford, who turned 62 in January, sounds amazingly fresh and strong. The same goes for the epic chops of guitarist Paul Quinn. If I didn’t know any better, this record could have been released in 1983, at the height of Saxon’s North American popularity. Albeit with more polish and power.
There are so many metal bands keep coming back for second and third stabs at greatness. Including Saxon. Except, Saxon has never looked for, or needs redemption. Sacrifice is a rock-solid metal record, musically and lyrically. I envy my headbanging European brothers and sisters that will get to see the band live during their epic tour of the UK and Europe this year. Sacrifice is out March 26th on UDR Music. I highly encourage you to listen to the title track, at the highest possible volume, here.
Bovine hails from Birmingham,UK. Otherwise known as the never-metal world of Black Sabbath. Their new record, due out on FDA Rektoz April 12th, The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire, has managed to do something rather elusive when it comes to the metal realm, by paving a bit of new ground. The band could easily juxtapose itself into various metal genres. It’s not that Bovine’s music defies description, however, I will defer any further statements, and borrow a line from the band’s short press release that describes Bovine’s sound as whatever “sludge-soaked ghetto rockers” sound like. Dirty rockers from the ghetto? Count me in. Bovine is currently streaming two tracks from Empire online, Military Wife, and Thank Fuck I Ain’t You.
I’m not breaking any metal news to anyone when I say that Earth Rocker is Clutch’s 10th record. But let it be known that I will go out on a very thick, very metal branch, and say that it is every bit as great as all those moderate bastards are saying it is.
Recently, Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon was quoted, saying that the band was going for a “Motorhead vibe” with Earth Rocker. And as eager as you might be to reject such sacrilege, after listening to Earth Rocker I can honestly say I was completely dazzled by it’s spot-on production, and kick-ass lyrics. Stuff that punches its way into your ears, by any means possible. For me, a perfect example of said ear-punching is the track, “The Wolfman Kindly Requests“. Any metalhead worth their silver bullets will dig every track on Earth Rocker, as it repeatedly hits every one of it’s metal notes harder than the last. I even caught a hint of King’s X circa 1998, loudly bent out of shape, pumping faster than it’s predecessor. Are you in? You should be. Book, Saddle, and Go, motherf*cker.