Label: Relapse Records
At what point do you realise that a band aren’t just a good band, but one that, in years to come, will be talked about as a great band; the kind who transcend genre, who practically everyone in to metal agrees that, yes, that band are awesome. For High on Fire, I think that point came with Death is this Communion, even if maybe we didn’t all realise it at the time. This is the point that proved – if there was any doubt – that High on Fire were in it for the long-haul, and deserve to be talked about in terms of the masters of the riff.
The Liar and The Saint, the debut album of grind three-piece Let It Die, does not fuck around. Sure, they might have a few moments of slower, feedback-drenched build-up in amongst the hardcore/grind fury, but even then, The Liar and The Saint is a full-throttle, teeth-bared onslaught of an album. The slower moments help provide that all-important contrast, making the fast bits hit all the harder; and there’s some killer riffs and breakdowns thrown in to the mix, too. All of this makes The Liar and The Saint one of the hardest hitting records from the UK underground in recent years.
Label: Vertigo Records
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is Black Sabbath‘s best album.
Label: Diwphalanx Records / Southern Lord Records (reissue)
Anyone even vaguely familiar with Boris know that the Japanese band have a vast, hugely varied discography, ranging from drone to psychedelic metal to J-pop – sometimes in the space of a single album. Akuma no Uta is the album that introduced me to the band, and remains my favourite – which is why I’m slightly apprehensive about getting to see them on their UK tour with Amenra. Their most recent album, Dear, is a different beast to Akuma no Uta, being based upon drone, rather than the psychedelic heavy metal of Akuma… – and, as good as I expect them to be, part of me will be disappointed if nothing from Akuma… is played.
First things first: Fuck You Pay Me (FYPM) is a brilliant band name.
Second things second: Dumbed Down is the kind of hardcore that reminds me why I fell in love with the genre in my youth; and why so few hardcore bands these days leave an impression on me. Dumbed Down has all of the energy and righteous anger that is missing from so much hardcore, backed up with riffs that recall the classics from the 80’s, all wrapped up in a rough’n’ready production.
Label: Metal Blade Records
In power metal, as in many areas of life, one rule reigns supreme: go big, or go home. And by Gandalf’s beard, do Visigoth go big on Conqueror’s Oath. This is power metal of the most triumphant kind, full of epic battle hymns, designed to have you approaching your day at the office as if you were striding in to battle, with a muscular confidence and real power. As reminiscent of old Iron Maiden and Dio as it is more modern bands like Grand Magus, Conqueror’s Oath is an album of such quality and talent that it’s sure to win over even the more cynical and grim of metal fans.
Label: Blackened Death Records
Sometimes, you just want some no-nonsense metal; the kind that doesn’t care whether it’s black, or death, or thrash, or heavy. For such a time, the debut EP from Bristol band Ylem Darkul serves very nicely. The Amnesiac Art of Human Existence is a short, sharp example of extreme metal that pulls from various styles and sources to create a record full of solid songs, that switches styles and conjures compelling riffs with skill and passion.