Amazon Arch EnemyARCH ENEMY

THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL

Metal mavens Arch Enemy have excavated some of their favorite cuts from the first three non-Angela albums, rehearsed (and in some instances rehashed) the hell out of them and went to the studio and laid down new versions to comprise their latest 13-track endeavor The Root of All Evil. While re-recording previous works long finished seems like a copout to some and sometimes irks loyal fans as taking a cheap and easy route, such is not the case here thanks to Team Amott’s unbridled pristine interpretations of classics (“The Immortal,” “Dead Inside”) brimming over with a voracious vigor whose exhilarating electricity renders the closest thing to the energy of a live show you can get with headphones plugged in. www.centurymedia.com –Mike SOS

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THE CRIMSON ARMADA

GUARDIANS

Ohio metal troupe The Crimson Armada give it up to God while playing a fierce style of new school death metal on their 10-track endeavor Guardians. Following the structures and musical template of The Black Dahlia Murder a bit too closely (“Desecrated”), this band makes up for the blatant borrowing with barrages of tasty technical twin guitar shreddery (“A Filthy Addiction”) and healthy dollops of deathcore breakdowns interspersed (“The Final Words”). Nonetheless, this quintet’s furious yet familiar strain of modern extreme metal aims for a colossal collision of Hot Topic mall rats and Christian metal bible-thumpers. Let the games begin. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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JOB FOR A COWBOY

RUINATION

Job for a Cowboy have raised the ire of purists and caught a lot of heat from stalwart death metal fans for being the media darling poster boys for the modern death metal movement, yet Ruination showcases the band making musical strides away from their maligned deathcore roots, sprouting towards a discernibly old school death metal approach. This 10-track excursion in extremity exhibits an unadulterated Vader/Suffocation/ Morbid Angel/ Cannibal Corpse vibe and you’d be hard pressed to find anything that resembles “core” on this offering. Instead, it sounds as if this fast-rising Arizona quintet shut off the hype machine long enough to pay close attention and take stringent notes while trekking the globe with some of the genre’s elite outfits, resulting in piecing together their own interpretations of the works of the aforementioned elite acts (amongst others), even going as far to implement apocalyptic slow-churned down tempo elements (“Ruination”) and Lamb of God-esque melody into their scalding stew (“Regurgitated Disinformation”). Changing key members also doesn’t hurt to freshen up the mix, and with a new drummer and guitarist in tow, this squad’s sound has morphed into a meaner and nastier entity, as tracks like “Lords of Chaos,” “Summon the Hounds,” and “Detonate and Exterminate” demonstrate this crew’s beefed-up brutal nuances in full assault mode. Haters will still pontificate and run the band down for their shortcomings, but the fact remains that Job for a Cowboy is breaking away from the trappings of their earlier endeavors by embracing a face-ripping death metal retread sound that, while far from groundbreaking, puts the band in a position to justify all of the attention they’ve received. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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DOGS OF WINTER

FROM SOIL TO SHALE

A sinewy yet soothing dose of hypnotic Hesher rock comes courtesy of NYC outfit Dogs of Winter, whose debut full-length From Soil to Shale renders an exquisite nine-track rock excursion teeming with a loud and clear yet down and dirty elegance. This trio serves up a veritable stoner rock smorgasbord bursting with crafty nuggets of raucous rock ‘n roll audacity and well-placed off kilter alternative metal techniques (“Flesh to Stone,” “Ghost”). Bridging the oceansized gap between the grassroots metal of Baroness, the keep you guessing tendencies of Faith No More, and the hard hitting tunefulness of Foo Fighters, this unit’s fluid musical interplay and standout soulful vocal harmonies (“Beneath the Fold”) yield hybrids of muscular hard rock with brazen hooks, throbbing rhythms, and sly lyrical content that embody an earthy vibe as if whittled down from endless late night studio session jams. Showcasing lean and mean arrangements with an abundance of floating rhythms abound (“Anathema”), Dogs of Winter is poised to satisfy your sweet tooth with their batch of voluminous and voraciously addictive rock ‘n roll. www.lapdanceacademy.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon BehemothBEHEMOTH

EVANGELION

Polish death metal mavens Behemoth unleash another blasphemous barrage of blackened death metal on the unit’s latest affair Evangelion. Intense from end to end, this nine-track offering renders a blistering batch of unholy mantras over a noteworthy demonstration of relentless percussion (“The Seed Ov I”) while a menacing mix of guitar and bass explosions pummel your skull (“Defiling Morality Ov Black God”) and shakes you down to your soul (“OV Fire and The Void”). Crisper and more fluid thanks to the talents of Colin Richardson behind the boards, Behemoth’s massively malefic tones and ominous grooves sound bigger, badder, and burlier than before (“Shemhamforash”), thrusting this troupe from the roots of the underground to the surface of the extreme metal bubble with all the malcontent and dastardly elements intact necessary to destroy the hapless in their path. Strap yourself in and prepare for the oncoming onslaught courtesy of this evil outfit. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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THE HATED

DRINKIN’ FOR A LIVING

The hard living Delaware punk quintet The Hated are a grizzled lot whose latest five-song sojourn clocks in at just shy under 10 minutes and demonstrates the right way to play hard nosed street punk. Drinkin’ for a Living is a pogo-friendly free for all armed with a fast and loose style (“Barfight”) reminiscent of acts such as the bouncier side of Black Flag and Cock Sparrer at their most anthemic (“Troubled Oi”). Adorned with a fiery selection of compact tunes that help build confidence necessary to mix it up at any time, The Hated do the punk scene proud by heartily embracing an authentic style that any fan of real punk rock can’t resist. www.myspace.com/forverhated93 –Mike SOS

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GNAW THEIR TONGUES

ALL THE DREAD MAGNIFICENCE OF PERVERSITY

One-man Dutch experimental black metal project Gnaw Their Tongues eerily creep into the subconscious with latest release All the Dread Magnificence of Perversity. Adorned with an odd array of swirling instrumentation pieced together as if scoring a horror movie, ominous synths, sci-fi spoken word samples, blackened atmosphere, and whizzes of bleak industrial noise dominates GTT’s ethereal soundscape. This nine-track affair makes a serious bid for most vile and desperate cinematic soundtrack since Fantomas thanks to a cavalcade of chilling shrieks and compellingly edge of your seat musical movements that guide the way through the murky and shadowy paths taken on tracks such as “The Stench of Dead Horses on My Breath and The Vile Existence in My Hands.” Depraved and devious (just check out the disturbing bloodsoaked artwork of female captives in different stages of mechanical bondage), this is a perfect album to throw on loop at the house during trick or treat time to set the mood, scare the hell out of the neighbors, and dismember bodies to. www.crucialblast.net –Mike SOS

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ECHOES OF ETERNITY

AS SHADOWS BURN

American female fronted metal quintet Echoes of Eternity return with their sophomore effort, the nine-track disc As Shadows Burn. Displaying a capable handle of both progressive-minded Euro metal nuances and the dreamy Goth metal sound, this troupe exhibits the capability to switch between menacing (“Descent of a Blackened Soul”) and galloping (“Letalis Deus”) at the drop of a dime while the twin guitar assault shreds with the melodic mind of a blend of Mercyful Fate, Arch Enemy, and Megadeth (“The Scarlet Embrace,” “Funeral in the Sky”). If you’re a sucker for sterile but sweet vocal harmonies over a durable and rousing yet retread metal backdrop a la Nightwish yet clamor for more hard nosed delivery, Echoes of Eternity has everything lined up ready for you to dive into. www.nuclearblastusa.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon AuguryAUGURY

FRAGMENTARY EVIDENCE

The progressive metal tag is often overused to describe bands, yet there’s really no other way to accurately depict the music of Canadian unit Augury. Returning after a five year absence and undergoing significant lineup changes, Fragmentary Evidence reveals an outfit weaned on ‘70s prog rock expansiveness, traditional classical music structure, and jazz improvisation as much as the forward-thinking death metal of Death and Suffocation and the black metal straight from Norway. This squad’s intense and unique intricacies blend virtuoso guitar playing with rhythmic gymnastics under the barbaric rants from a slew of guest vocals, making an exhilarating listening experience for even the most finicky of technical death metal heads. Featuring a standout bass guitar performance that sweepingly takes the lead over much of the album while equipped with an innate acumen that invites an oppressive atmosphere and blistering barrages of shredding to coexist in perfect harmony (“Jupiter to Ignite”), Augury’s blend of jaw-dropping musicianship and harrowing brutality renders a marvelously malevolent spectacle where adventurous metallic minds will readily get lost in (“Skyless”). www.nuclearblastusa.com –Mike SOS

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AS YOU DROWN

REFLECTION

Swedish squad As You Drown cross-pollinates an old school death metal spirit with seeds from the deathcore tree on their nine-track debut Reflection. This quartet’s concoction of severe savagery over a barrage of bludgeoning modern tones is seemingly redundant and yields a far from earth shattering result, even conjuring comparisons to Bury Your Dead and the like upon first listen. Yet don’t count this act out just yet, as dastardly discernible characteristics from the unsurpassed brutality of Suffocation to the technical tenacity of Meshuggah take flight after a few spins (“Swallow,” “Ashes”) to give As You Drown’s punishing presence a way more well rounded appeal than that of their peers. Focusing on demolishing everything in its path with an unstoppable sonic crush whose impressive exhibition of power is capable of widespread damage (“Driven by Hatred”), Reflection proves to be a extreme metal exercise in relentlessness which stands solid amongst the countless metal troupes who employ similar devices. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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CRYPTIC TALES

VII DOGMATA OF MERCY

Polish quintet Cryptic Tales latest album is 13 years in the making, making this veteran outfit’s latest seven-track VII Gogmata of Mercy the extreme metal version of Chinese Democracy…minus the dramatics apparently. This troupe’s symphonic black metal styling contains punchy melodies (“Set the Unholy Icons Free”) and robust guitars (“Valley of the Dolls II”) that stays in step with Old Man’s Child and Cradle of Filth, yet with drums way high in the mix throughout the disc’s course, it’s hard to ascertain a continuous sense of atmosphere while constant pounding is abound. Nonetheless, Cryptic Tales follow blueprints while making artistic additions well enough to pull off a sturdy long awaited follow-up laden with a bevy of the necessary nefarious instrumental ingredients interspersed with an oddball sense of humor (just check out their cheeky promo pictures as an indication of this) that should garnish this band attention from the corpsepainted contingent. www.empire-records.pl –Mike SOS

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THE FEW AGAINST MANY

SOT

The Few Against Many is a progressive melodic death metal troupe that boasts former members of Satariel, Torchbearer, Angel Blake, and ex-Scar Symmetry frontman Christian Alvestam in its ranks. This Swedish quintet’s debut SOT demonstrates a hellacious hybrid of symphonic black metal, melodic death metal, and a tenacious technical prowess whose scope is way darker and oppressive than when we heard Alvestam last, as tracks like “Heresi” bleed through the speakers with Dark Tranquility-esque fury while “Skapelsens Sorti” explores a shadowy symphonic side with lyrics sung in Swedish (only two songs here are sung in English by the way, proving that as long as the voice sounds evil, it’s all good). Providing a discernibly darker departure with a slew of new and intriguing sounds creeping in unheard on previous works, The Few Against Many make their mark with a solid array of nefarious melodies (“Brand Mark”) via SOT. www.pulverisedrecords.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon Mun WateMUNICIPAL WASTE

MASSIVE AGGRESSIVE

Good time thrashers Municipal Waste bear down from the carefree kill the keg beer swigging ways to produce their fourth installment of speed and power in the form of Massive Aggressive. As cliché as it sounds, this Virginia quartet’s latest 13-track attack is the album where this troupe has “matured”, but fear not loyal fans, they haven’t gone soft in the least; in fact, the ‘Waste is as dangerous as ever, churning out the cavalcade of blistering breakneck riffs with all the vicious velocity your body can handle with the impetus of the bastard child of Suicidal Tendencies, DRI and Exodus (“Acid Sentence”, “Mech-Cannibal”). The departure comes mainly in the lyrical content, a place where the unit’s trademarked crack a beer and chug whimsy has all but disappeared (sans “Horny for Blood”), replaced by a barrage of horror movie retellings (“The Wrath of the Severed Head”), disaster scenarios (“Wolves of Chernobyl”), and fighting the powers that be (“Upside Down Church,” “Divine Blasphemer”), fitting in perfectly with the crew’s menacing riffing, high pitched vocal yowl, and ripping rapid-fire drumming. Meshing chaotic hardcore punk leanings (“Media Skeptic”) with hearty dollops of mid-paced chugging into their high-energy tumultuous thrash metal approach (“Massive Aggressive”), Municipal Waste’s latest album showcases a sinister sharpening of their skill set while the band implements some new tricks into their arsenal that when combined make a template for what a lean and mean crossover metal record for the 21st Century should sound like. www.earache.com –Mike SOS

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THE ACCUSED

THE CURSE OF MARTHA SPLATTERHEAD

Despite only one original member remaining in the fold (guitarist Tommy Niemeyer for those keeping score at home), incendiary Seattle splattercore pioneers The Accused manage to capture the extreme essence from their salad days on the group’s latest 14-track endeavor The Curse of Martha Splatterhead. Reinvigorating the masses with a fire at all cylinders slash and burn style that bequeaths them crossover hero status alongside the ranks of DRI and Suicidal Tendencies (“Scotty Came Back”), this release relentlessly slams your head against the wall from start to finish with a barrage of twisted vocal angst (“Splatter Rock II”), thunderous rapid fire thrash metal percussion (“Bodies are Rising”), raucous punk metal guitar melodies (“Hemline”), and gore-driven horror movie intensity throughout the entire affair, making this album a raw treat chock full of the unapologetic hack ‘em up and drag ‘em out metallic goodness this band helped spawn. www.southernlord.net –Mike SOS

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BLOOD OF THE PROPHETS

BLOOD OF THE PROPHETS

Toledo, OH sextet Blood of the Prophets blend the best elements of modern metal to comprise their three-song eponymous release. Led by a versatile menacing growl and a bountiful array of nifty fretwork with an obligatory dose keyboard overlay to add a harrowing chill (“Awaiting Death”), this act confidently straddles the line between the heavy handed approach of Chimaira and the histrionic path of melodic black metal to create a maelstrom of metallic fury whose familiar strains of aggression are bound to get the pit involved. www.myspace.com/bloodoftheprophets –Mike SOS

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YOUR DEMISE

IGNORANCE NEVER DIES

Your Demise is a bruising UK quintet whose angry bursts of melodic metal-tinged hardcore falls in line with the most recent works of Agnostic Front, Gallows, and Comeback Kid on the 14-track Ignorance Never Dies. Rendering a refreshing concoction of Hatebreed-esque pit stompers (“The Clocks Aren’t Ticking Backwards”, “Nothing Left But Regret”) featuring a scalding mix of vicious vocals, a standout bombastic bass guitar whose performance deserves an award (“Burnt Tongues”), chunky riffs galore, and rhythmic beatdowns (“TF”), the only misstep here are the electronic dub interludes dispersed in between the mauling mayhem of cuts like “All I Never Want to Be” and “Black Veins”, coming off a bit overindulgent and misplaced. But when taking on this album as a whole, Your Demise’s supple fury (“Blood Ran Cold”) maintains the immediacy of slamming grooves chock full of punk spirit and hardcore heft, so all can be forgiven for their branching out and throwing some chill out moments in, as you’ll definitely need them to catch your breath anyhow. www.earache.com –Mike SOS

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amazon-gwar-lustGWAR

LUST IN SPACE

Intergalactic metal warriors Gwar celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band in style (just check out the homage to Kiss from the album’s cover) with a discernibly thrashier approach on Lust in Space. Retaining the outrageous stage antics and witty lyrical subject matter (“Metal Metal Land”) that put them in the collective conscience of the metal scene, Gwar’s 11th studio offering (produced by Devin Townsend no less) is a meatier musical entry, providing the listener an impressive arsenal of durable guitarwork (“Let Us Slay”) and solid metal anthems (“Parting Shot”, “Damnation Under God”) to go along with the band’s undeniably unique presentation. Cohesively tying everything together to form a solid release where the chops are as sharp as the whimsical delivery, Gwar’s latest cosmic treat is a raucous and fun-filled metal excursion chock full of headbanging humor. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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BURNT BY THE SUN

HEART OF DARKNESS

New Jersey metalcore titans Burnt By the Sun have sadly decided to call it a day, but at least they’ve graciously given us a mammoth farewell in the form of their explosive 10-track swan song Heart of Darkness. This menacing menagerie of metalcore mayhem impressively recreates the cult unit’s seething delivery after a six-year hiatus with trademarked edgy songwriting twists cemented into a brash barrage of tumultuous technical metal colliding into chaotic and confrontational hardcore perspectives masterfully captured via Mike Olender’s vitriolic and venomous bark. This is not your run of the mill Hot Topic metalcore, kids; this is the real deal from seasoned veterans that get the job done with a proficient combination of brutality, integrity and expedience, providing the necessary nastiness that lunges from the speakers with an insatiable wrath to destroy. www.relapse.com –Mike SOS

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HARDCORE SUPERSTAR

BEG FOR IT

Cock rock for the 21st Century, Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar return with the group’s latest offering Beg For It. A hodgepodge homage to heavier end of hair metal a la Love/Hate and Kix, this 12-track affair’s jarring juxtaposition of contemporary tones with pop metal priss (“Hope for a Normal Life”) is tailor-made to rock soccer stadiums (“Nervous Breakdown”) thanks to the mind-numbing enormity of the choruses, not to mention the presence of both a gritty and grizzled rock singer and nifty fits of glistening guitar (“Beg for It”). If you’re pining for a modern slant on glam metal’s glory days or really miss 1988 that much, Hardcore Superstar sufficiently scratches the itch but don’t expect much more. www.nuclearblastusa.com –Mike SOS

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OVERMARS

BORN AGAIN

Make sure your attention span is fully intact when popping in the latest one-track, 40-minute endeavor from ambitious French metal septet Overmars, as Born Again tries patience and slows momentum with its methodically torturous pace and unsettlingly haunting passages of dastardly drone and doom-laden dramatics that unmistakably shares common ground with avant-garde metal’s usual suspects such as Isis and Neurosis. Almost as if providing a soundtrack for an inescapable nightmare, this unit’s bleak industrial interludes and trance-inducing elements are bolstered by a three-prong vocal attack (two guys and one girl), each with distinct characteristics stamping unique eeriness to the redundant lyrical textures. Not only do the nuances of sludgy post-metal, dirge-like ambience, and black metal atmosphere join forces here, they work together in a sinister symbiosis to crush your feeble soul while exerting an excruciating display of darkness and despair custom made for those who call the catacombs home. www.crucialblast.net –Mike SOS

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Amazon Along DeathTHE BLACK

ALONGSIDE DEATH

Harkening back to an era where black metal was at its most unfettered, Swedish trio The Black take a nefarious no-nonsense approach on their scathing eight-track offering Alongside Death. Serving a malicious hunk of meat and potatoes black metal with a cavalcade of eerie riffs, chaotic blasts, and feral vocal utterances leading the charge, The Black murkily impart direct derivations from the Mayhem and Satyricon playbooks (“Dead Seed”).  Despite the complaints about the unit’s simplicity, it’s that same dialed-back delivery which allows for the squad’s diabolical aura to permeate from “A Contract Written in Ashes,” making an enjoyably authentic slab of demonic darkness for those who have stayed troo. www.pulverised.net –Mike SOS

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SUBARACHNOID SPACE

EIGHT BELLS

Returning after a four-year layoff with a completely revamped lineup, revered Portland, OR troupe Subarachnoid Space dole out five mainly instrumental tracks of space-laden psychedelic guitar freakouts from the bleak end of the black hole on this galactic group’s latest offering Eight Bells. This veteran troupe keeps the riffs cosmic and the atmosphere dark (“Akathesia”) while providing an acidic blend of trippy effects, Hawkwind-esque heft, and fluctuating moodswings with a hard rock soul, yielding a stellar set of shadowy explosions (“Hunter Seeker”) which should find no problem fitting snugly between your Fucking Champs and Explosions in the Sky discs. www.crucialblast.net –Mike SOS

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LITURGY

RENIHILATION

Brooklyn NY’s Liturgy sparks an interesting debate for the ardent black metal fan to lament over; can a band who openly and wholeheartedly disregards black metal’s trademarked norms yet punishes ears with a similar array of blistering elements passed down from the genre’s elite really be considered black metal? Surely this discussion is bound to go the distance, but rest assured this fresh-faced as opposed to corpse-painted troupe will be too occupied transcending their abominable aural assault through opaque intervals of twin guitar tremolo runs to care about looking the part. Adorned with an unintelligible bestial shriek that fits the music perfectly and solidified with an octopus-esque percussive performance that whirls at breakneck velocity and never misses a beat, this collection of volatile metallic shredding gives props to Burzum, Darkthrone, and Ulver while implementing smidgens of hipster influence within its classically cacophonic crackles and bastardized buzzing to keep the haters hating and the vibe raw, yet maintain a global scope (“Track 7”) which permits an escape from their frosty forest to peruse the vast metal landscape for inspiration before making their solemn sojourn back to the wild. www.20buckspin.com –Mike SOS

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FUNKFACE

YOUR POLITICS SUCK

Seasoned NYC juggernaut Funkface hits hard with a soulful hard rock stance on their eight-track endeavor Your Politics Suck. Taking the listener back with the immediacy of Bad Brains while mixing in a flurry of Living Color-esque hard rock with flourishes of harder-edged ska and punk, this quintet displays a unique energy where both old school values and new school tones collide yet coexist in heavy harmony. www.funkfacenyc.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon HarvestmanHARVESTMAN

IN A DARK TONGUE

Harvestman is the third musical offering from prolific post-metal artist Steve Von Till (Neurosis) that essentially captures one man’s journey through sound. Waves of synths and guitars crash along drone rhythms while a rash of unorthodox instrumentation yields a cosmic cacophony jarringly juxtaposing hallucinogenic rock and abstract noise. Despite the music’s trance-like build-ups peaking to reach grand crescendos, Harvestman retains a disciplined tranquility that emphatically echoes the earthy sentiments of the music’s natural surroundings yet still manages to break away and take rocket ship rides to outer space (“The Hawk of Achill”). www.neurotrecordings.com –Mike SOS

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LITMUS

AURORA

UK psychedelic metal merchant Aurora returns from a trip in the time machine to present their third offering, the euphoric eight-track journey entitled Aurora. A galactic odyssey containing all the space rock swagger, prog-rock peel-outs, and crazy keyboard whizzes and swirls your brain on drugs can potentially handle, Litmus’ bromantic worship of Hawkwind is appalling but totally forgivable because of their authentic interpretation of both the energy and the experimental spirit. Further channeling Yes, Monster Magnet, and Pink Floyd into the mix also doesn’t hurt, as this band’s ability to effortlessly blast off into the universe’s farthest reaches is a boundless entity that renders a elated listening experience for all who crave an escape. www.riseaboverecords.com –Mike SOS

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TENET

SOVEREIGN

How’s this for a resume? Tenet is a supergroup started by Jed Simon comprised by members of Exodus, Strapping Young Lad, Forbidden, and Dark Angel. While imposing and impressive on paper, this troupe’s ferocious batch of oppressive thrash metal beatings is for real and delivers with a dastardly snarl that damn near guarantees this all-star quintet an automatic ascension to the genre’s upper-echelon. Sovereign is a nine-track thrash metal tour-de-force whose startlingly seething approach (thanks most notably via an insanity-laden over the top vocal performance from Steve Souza), endless rounds of resonant crushing riffs, and permeating vibes of genuine destruction all work together to form brutal barrages of Grade A thrash metal. Churning out the kind of vibrant volatility that the permutation of some of the genre’s elite should be, Tenet present a triumphant neck-snapping affair thrash fans new and old will adore. www.centurymedia.com –Mike SOS

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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA

SING-ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED AND DELIRIOUS

Schizophrenic Swedish sextet Diablo Swing Orchestra intertwine crushing metal a la System of a Down with oodles of oddball flare that combines heavy-handed metal menacing with a jump-jiving dose of 1940’s-era ragtime and swing with a span the globe sound. Throw in a bothersome barrage of over the top male/female operatic twin vocals and cap it off with a smorgasbord of surreal stylistic switches accompanied by a cavalcade of old time instrumentation destined to induce listener dizziness to round out this twisted yet enchanting offering. If you can stand your metallic attack with a lot of left of center influences, you won’t find a more ambitiously avant-garde release than Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious, making it a must-have for the adventurous sect who wouldn’t feel out of place busting out The Lindy in the pit. www.lasersedgegroup.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon ValkVALKYRJA

INVOCATION OF DEMISE

A cold and bleak strain of black metal emanates from Sweden’s Valkyrja in the form of the nine-track endeavor Invocation of Demise. Originally released in 2007, this sinister offering showcases intense layers of hellacious havoc this band wields with thunderous drums, tremolo guitar runs, and diabolic vocal projections sounding startlingly full and clear for a black metal recording. Paying homage to the pioneers of the genre without sacrificing their own unique twists and turns on cuts such as the sprawling “The Vigil”, the menacing “Plague Death” and the mammoth “Purification and Demise”, Valkyrja’s grim trajectory demonstrates the capability to switch up tempos from blast to crawl without losing an ounce of evil while channeling the gauntlet of black metal atmospheres with an effigy of demonic elegance standing tall throughout. www.metalblade.com –Mike SOS

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VADER

NECROPOLIS

The firm death metal grip of Vader returns to terrorize the world once again, as this stalwart Polish unit returns with the 11-track Necropolis. This disc yields a few surprises (such as an overall emphasis on brevity that gives the entire affair a brutal boost as well as a dramatic and dynamic closer with “When the Sun Drowns in Dark”), yet Vader has achieved status as one amongst a handful of bands who consistently deliver the goods while developing a brand of neck snapping pulverizing metal that they can truly call their own (“Blast”, “Anger”). Armed with the blistering speed, vitriolic vocals, and knockout punch arrangements that have made them a mainstay in the extreme metal scene (“We Are the Horde”), despite all but one original member remaining, Vader manages to not only retain its signature sound but stand out in the vast sea of other metal acts, a testament to both the band’s devastating approach and relentless passion to its craft. www.nuclearblastusa.com –Mike SOS

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WHITE WIZZARD

HIGH SPEED GTO

Focusing on the more pleasant end of the NWOBHM spectrum, Los Angeles revisionist metal mob White Wizzard harkens back to a more hard-rock based form of metal in the vein of Thin Lizzy, early Def Leppard and UFO on their seven-track excursion High Speed GTO. Songs about cars and girls with balls and bite are so pre-1985, yet this quartet pull off the authenticity of the era with a suitcase full of beer and some snappy rhythms (“Celestina”), flashy guitar licks, popping bottom-end (“March of the Skeleltons”) and creamy vocal melodies that stick in your head whether you like it or not. While their pop sensibilities may prove to be a bit too polished for the average metal fan, this act combines hard-edged hooks with arena metal enormity for an undeniably innocuous listening experience perfect for cruising the boulevard with the top down to. www.earache.com –Mike SOS

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MUGS

2009 NYHC

Raw and unapologetic, Mugs tear rooms apart with an unadulterated hardcore punk stance with strains of thrash metal looming underneath. Direct and confrontational, this quartet’s motto of ”Blunts, Broads, Beers and Boards” is played to the hilt on songs like “Work”, the snotty and snarling “I Get What I Want”, the Metallica farce of “Jaws” and the skater anthem “Board 2 Death”. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to demolish things to, seek this one out, as they champion the drunken debauchery of the likes of Murphy’s Law and No Redeeming Social Value rather well. www.myspace.com/pestcontrol –Mike SOS

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Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

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