And so, another month, another selection of short reviews. As always, it’s an eclectic selection, taking in a dark abmient soundtrack by Guillermo Pizarro; classic speed metal from Wardance; a reissue of some occult black metal, courtesy of Shaidar Logoth and Sentient Ruin; retro-rock from Wheel in the Sky; stomping hardcore from Peace of Mind; and some crushing death metal in the shape of Skeletal Serpent‘s self-titled EP. Enjoy!
Label: The Sign Records
You know the old saying about not judging a book by its cover? Let’s apply that to the new album by Spanish hard-rock/heavy metal band Lizzies. On Thin Ice might have some of the worst cover art I’ve seen this side of Goatlord, but, as anyone who heard first album Good Luck would surely expect, it contains some of the most kick-ass proto-metal to be released this year (and yes, I’m including the Saxon reissues in that list). Lizzies might be a relatively young band, but they understand all that is good about heavy metal – the riffs, the vocal hooks, the melodies; but more than all of that is the way that Lizzies make the listener feel like they’re on top of the world, with On Thin Ice being a massively empowering and confidence-boosting album.
Label: AOP Records
Blues for a Dying Planet is an album for those who like their metal to remember where it came from. The debut album from Spiral Skies is rooted in the sounds of yesterday, but manages to take its classic influences – with early metal being a prime part of that, but also folk and blues featuring prominently – and create occult rock that sounds exciting, invigorating these old sounds with new lifesblood. It’s a hugely enjoyable record, packed full of catchy hooks, strong melodies, and incredibly charismatic vocals.
Label: Candlelight Records
Retro-rock can be a pretty uninspiring place. How many bands that sound like Black Sabbath does the world actually need? And yet occasionally a band will come along, clearly recalling the masters of old, whilst managing to put their own spin on a long-established sound, making it sound fresh and urgent once more. Black Moth showed hints of their potential on previous albums The Killing Jar and Condemned to Hope, which took the retro stoner/doom template and added a garage rock, almost punk sense of energy to the sound. But with Anatomical Venus they have recorded a record that sees them step out of the shadows, feeling more confident than previous efforts, casting a dark spell via the medium of psychedelic soundscapes and classic rock riffs, all tied together with some of the strongest hooks this side of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. In other words, it’s catchy, heavy, and really rather good.
Label: The Sign Records
Modern bands playing classic rock place themselves in a precarious position. Sure, their music might be great, but how do you hold the listener’s attention without making them think they’d be better off just listening to the classics by Sabbath/Deep Purple/Thin Lizzy/and so on. The answer, as demonstrated by Demon Head on Thunder on the Fields, is deceptively simple – write songs that are strong, that demonstrate your own character, and are played with enough passion to put thoughts of the old masters as far out of the audience’s head as possible.
There’s been a bit of a slow-down in my reviews recently. There’s a few reasons for this, but the main one I’ll highlight is Sunless Sea. It’s one of the most addictive games I’ve played in a very long time, and one where the music and sound really enhances the atmosphere – and atmosphere is one thing this game does so well. So, rather than spending my time with extreme metal, I’ve been spending it in a version of Victorian London that was stolen by bats. And yeah, I know this may be the April edition and it’s being published in May, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me, even if the Sea will not.
I’ve still found some time for music though, and April’s short reviews include the demo EP from atmospheric black metal band Arête ; Black Absinthe‘s mix of hard rock and metal; riff-heavy, adventurous post-metal from Close The Hatch; British legends Diamond Head‘s self-titled album; blackened crust viciousness by Forced; and raw black metal by Haxen.