Tomorrow, April 2nd, we'll be publishing an interview with Maxwell Jeffries of Underking. Stay tuned! - Ed.
Written by: The Administrator
Please understand, dear reader, that when I say that At Hell’s Gate is my favorite album o’ the year thusfar, I’m not being dramatic for the sake of it. In March, my proposed review schedule was utterly strangled by this damn thing--garroted and left in the spring mud. Rather than checking out new stuff, or catching up on older stuff, I have found myself, time and time again, hitting repeat on Underking.
As such, enjoying this album was never in question; it was an inevitability. I’ve written pretty extensively about Underking in the past few months, and have immensely enjoyed--publicly and privately--the three pre-release singles. As such, the ultimate conclusion here isn’t exactly a secret: in this scribe's humble estimation, At Hell’s Gate is a stellar album, and Underking is an underrated talent who--if there is any justice in this world--will be turning many a headbanging head in very short order.
Underking--the moniker of the very talented Maxwell Jeffries--plays a stupidly infectious blend of traditional heavy metal, thrash, alternative metal, and NWOBHM, all encased in a decidedly modern sheen. Across the varied breadth of At Hell’s Gate, Jeffries sounds like he’s paying homage to a veritable horde of influences, while simultaneously delivers a fresh-faced take on the side of metal that revels in jubilant hooks, catchy choruses, and enthusiastic groove. Underking arrives at hell’s gate with glee-inducing energy and a penchant for catchy-as-hell songwriting, and if that ain’t enough to wet yer whistle, I can offer nothing but sympathy and condolences.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Probably one of the more anticipated debuts of our time, Midnight Spell finally cast their vision from the Between The Eyes demo into full-length format. For those unaware, these Miami, Florida based metal maniacs cast an old school-inspired heavy metal dish with leanings towards glam and speed alike. So it should go without saying that their style is pretty concise, with Sky Destroyer capitalizing on vocal harmony and gentle force.
Weirdly, this did not grab me the way I anticipated off the bat, but not necessarily in a negative sense, either. There’s a bit of a split between the two halves, and the back half made the front half easier to appreciate. Essentially, it eases you in strictly familiar territory, using on-the-nose tactics. “Midnight Ride” is a striking number, filled with booming drums and powerful vocals to blend in perfectly with the classic metal revival acts. You also get the soothing “Lady Of The Moonlight,” capturing early Dokken feels with its calm approach despite harder rhythms. The bassline and solo in particular are swell.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Wolf was a blip on the NWOBHM radar that came and went before they really had a shot at any kind of fame. The discography includes one demo in ‘82 and a full-length in ‘84, and that's all she wrote. The latter is what I’m here to discuss, because it’s an incredible gem that was not only overlooked, but also could have been huge if the spotlight was kinder to it. Edge Of The World is the name, and it falls on the warmer edge of the NWOBHM spectrum.
I say “warmer” simply because of its calmer delivery and overly welcoming vocals. The first thing that comes to mind is Def Leppard’s On Through The Night, but with guitars that are way undercooked. Melody dominates the entire disc, with concise vocals that latch themselves onto a vibrant scale of rhythms. I wouldn’t say that there’s much in the vein of mean riffs, but the production gives them a firm ground to reflect back the solid leads. This certainly allows for loads of bounciness, much like the faster but steady picking behind the chorus of “Shock Treatment.”
Written by: Volt Thrower
Drainbow! No, it's not a psychedelic effect of household cleaning supplies, it’s the eclectic, ambitious project of solo act extraordinaire Nick Sarcophagus, who brings us his debut long player The Tower of Flints. A dark twisting journey of extremities, whether it be the bounds of genre, or the limits of nature's capacity to sustain, viewed through the lens of her most vulnerable inhabitants. “To the victor the spoils," which just so happens to be whoever lays ears on this record.
I love it when an album's cover art perfectly encapsulates the sound found within, and this is a great example. A tip of the cap to Sarah Allen Reed for another work of art, really summing up the beautiful yet harsh reality of the natural world surrounding us. From its most tranquil moments of animal calls and keys, to its most frenetic of wails and galloping progressions, the story is to be found within the walls of said art.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
I tend to not read reviews of bands or artists I'm going to review because I don't want the influence of someone else's ideas to be in my head when I'm trying to think of how I feel about a project. That being said, I have no idea what other people are writing about War Cloud. What I can say is that if the words "AMAZING" or "Fucking Fantastic" haven't been used to define them, then that is a low-down dirty shame.
War Cloud hits on so many levels for me. I can take a snap and sink back in my chair and ease into that place in my mind that puts me back into teenage fantasies of being a riff-monster rock star. The guy who lays down the riff that changes the world. To me, War Cloud's Earhammer Sessions is the beginning of my rock and roll fantasy. I'm old. I mean like, I fucking remember the 70's kind of old. This album evokes that old school rock and roll spirit. It takes me back to the days of true rock and roll domination.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Woah man, the usual rate for Haunt dropping releases is one full-length per year, with a complimentary EP to go along with it. But 2020 is different, and considering the amount of shit this year has offered humanity, it’s nice when things are different for the better. Frontman Trevor Church dropped Haunt’s third album Mind Freeze at the beginning of the year--an album of the year contender for sure. But instead of an EP to follow, we get a second full-length under the name Flashback.
Unsurprisingly, this is the cleanest effort the band has dropped to date, especially considering the vocals taking more of the forefront than ever before. I chalk that up to the concise and clear delivery. Additionally, we’re met with a far warmer feeling to contrast the previous record, fitting the summer time feelings, rather than the winter ones of the previous effort. It’s probably safe to say that this is also where Haunt were reaching for more of a pop-metal aesthetic, especially with “Electrified.” The chorus is catchy as hell and somewhat watered down, though it isn’t bad by any stretch of the word. You just can’t ignore the prettier nature and simplistic build.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Canada has been on a tear with its metal releases so far this year. Alberta specifically has been a hotbed for heavy lately. Whether you want genre bending devastation of the stunning Wake Devouring Ruin release, or some mind numbingly heavy stoner doom in Highbernation's Comatokes, chances are you can find something to scratch that itch in-province.
Now you might be saying, “I'm actually in the mood for some trad-heavy, maybe some NWOBHM speed stuff.” If so, gather ‘round weary reader, for the local village Journeyman has the release for you. Termination Shock, recently released through Gates of Hell Records, is the second full-length from Calgary speed rockers Traveler.
Blood Red Victory is--praise the gods of battle above--the textbook definition of a grower. At initial listen, IRONFLAME seemed banal at best, a deliberate and unassuming second fiddle to literally any of Iron Maiden's more, well, banal moments. IRONFLAME, my early notes indicate, is to Snoke as Bruce Dickinson is to Palpatine--a fallible facsimile.
But I couldn't have been more wrong. While Blood Red Victory isn't a showstopping album by any means, it is, in fact, a delightfully astute and solid recreation of the trad metal sound. Despite listening a great many times over the past few weeks, I'm inclined to throw it on one more time. Or maybe two more times. Let’s just see where the day takes us, shall we?
Autumn was a brief affair here at the Sleeping Village, and now that rime coats our beards and the snow has unceremoniously de-robed the trees, we slumbering scribes are all set to slip into hibernation for the next five months or so.
But! To combat said lethargy before it truly sets in, I, in all my administration authority, bequeathed our archivist to trawl through our overstuffed mailcart for something worthy of our collective attention. When he emerged, Galaxy’s sci-fi inspired debut EP clutched in white-knuckled grasp, I was confident we had, at very least, an approximation of a winner. And so here we are, blasting Lost From the Start ‘till our lids droop. Feel free to join in the festivities.
Our shadowy cabal of scribes has happened upon one of the most wondrous and/or perplexing albums in existence. The following reviews, released over the course of several days, is our humble attempt to decipher that which lays before us. Prepare thyself. - Ed.
Written by: Loveloth
On November 25th, in year of our Lord 2019, I, Loveloth, release upon thee a review of a record to end all records. I am, of course, referring to Remmirath's sophomore Shambhala Vril Saucers. In case you somehow don't know about them, they were formed in Bratislava many moons ago and while they share three members with Malokarpatan, they sound completely different. Calling them eclectic may sound pretentious, but I truly believe they are.
Things start off blackishly enough with "Tiger Of The City," whose generic riffs and blastbeats lulled me into a false sense of security before unleashing a deadly weapon--synths. Synths that would find no trouble finding themselves on a Hawkwind record. Assisting it is a bass that sounds equally as 70's, but as soon as you get used to it--riff time.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!