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Album of the Month - April
  • Horizons
    by Anubis Gate
Video of the Month - April
  • Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    starring Led Zeppelin
Good Reading
  • The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    Voyageur Press


CD of the Month
  • Mudvayne
    by Mudvayne
  • Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    by Michael Moynihan, Didrik Soderlind
  • Retribution
    by Shadows Fall
  • Brutal Legend
    Brutal Legend
    Electronic Arts

The Oath (self-titled)

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is an all girl band. And for just staring at the cover for a while...One of the earmarks of a thing becoming bigger than just being a thing is when it starts having its own variations. As with the retro thing going around, you're starting to see some subdivision within the normal makeup, which keeps an otherwise boring pattern from becoming monotony.

In this case, I'm speaking of The Oath and their self-titled debut album featuring their version of that wonderful, warm 70s vibe (with occult overtones, in this case) that's spread like friggin' gangbusters all over Northern Europe. The brainchild of Johanna Sadonis and Linnéa Olsson, The Oath have a rock solid foundation of thick, meaty riffs and whiskey-soaked vocals that sound like what should be playing under the Taarakian segment of a new Heavy Metal movie. This is music with old school balls of steel, baby, which is delightfully ironic coming from two beautiful, leather-clad blondes. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find hair on their chests - nor would I mind.

All jokes aside, The Oath is a really great album in part because it pays homage to the great elements of the best of an era's music rather than merely imitating the sound. There's some great production on the album as well with just enough distortion and a touch of vocal reverb (note, ladies: not all female singers need to scream like they're in labor in order to make a song rock), keeping it all simple while evoking the spartan setups of bands of metal yore - unlike the highly processed, multi-layered opuses many modern bands attempt today. Really nice work here.

The Bottom Line: The Oath may be "another one of those damned retro bands", but this one's really got the goods; great riffs, killer style, sexy vocals, and enough leathered up charisma to make for a rocking good time.

Tracks That Might Cause You To Spontaneously Develop Tattoos: Night Child, Black Rainbow, and Silver and Dust

- Genghis may have just fallen in love with yet another female guitarist (sigh)...


Anubis Gate - Horizons

Damn, this is some good progmetal. Something is awesome in the state of Denmark.Danish proggers Anubis Gate have released their sixth studio album, Horizons, their first without vocalist Jacob Hansen (though he does have co-producer credit) and I have to tell you this is a great time to check them out if you haven't already. This is some stellar shit.

Anubis Gate brings a little something extra to the table when it comes to traditional progressive metal, and that's a terrific pop flavor in terms of melody and vocals. If pressed, I would liken them to a cross between Rabin-era Yes and Vanden Plas with a little Opeth-y acoustic work for depth.

I love how the vocal harmonies are smooth as silk, giving it that Vanden Plas-esque richness while the heavy distortion keeps things chugging beneath it. This is sonic layering at its finest, folks, where no one instrument gets lost in the mix, just the way it ought to be. What an album.

The Bottom Line: Even trimming down to a quartet hasn't diminished Anubis Gate's ability to rock the shit out of some great progressive metal, and the heavier melodic overtones freshen up the sound quite a bit from the frenetic, instrumental pissing contest to which the genre often falls victim.

Tracks That Prove Everything's Better With Pinch Harmonics: Destined To Remember, Airways, and Mindlessness

- Genghis does a mean air pinch harmonic...


The Graviators - Motherload

Sweden is clearly leading the world in producing great doom/stoner metal bands these days. And just look at this bad-ass album cover!Swedish rockers, The Graviators have released their third full length album, Motherload, and if you dig that analog trip but like a little shred thrown in for good measure, this is very likely your new jam. Goodness knows there's no shortage of retro bands around - a new one seems to crop up every week - but the sweet spot for me is when you take an old school 70s vibe and update it with a modern sensibility in terms of the guitar work and rhythm structure. This is why I'm a big fan of progressive stoner metal, where all of my favorite ingredients come together for a delicious sonic dish.

While The Graviators may not be progressive necessarily (though they do make use of some progressive elements), they do get that being analog doesn't mean you have to sacrifice complexity for authenticity; it's a vibe, not a law set in stone, right? And tracks like Corpauthority illustrate that idea well, with its Sabbathy main riff, multi-layered rhythmic passages, and guitarist Martin Fairbanks' killer solo adding some nice color in the form of restrained neo-classical sweep picking nestled amongst the bluesy flurries. Great stuff.

The Bottom Line: Like their kinsmen Witchcraft, The Graviators are riding the wave of doom/stoner metal on the back of a sea dragon, laying waste to all in their path with the swipe of a Gibson SG. If you like your old school metal with a modern sense of the past, check these dudes out.

Tracks To Make You Replace All Of Your Lightbulbs With Black Lights: Narrow Minded Bastards, Tigress Of Sibiria, and Corpauthority

- Genghis digs the doom/stoner metal thing just fine, but let's hope it's tapering off...


Hammercult - Steelcrusher

Now this is a cover. You can only assume Taarna is on the back flying into the fray on her weird battle bird.You don't often hear about metal bands from Israel. But newcomers Hammercult have a certain something that can't be denied. Having won the Wacken Open Air event a couple of years ago - only a year or so after even forming the band, they've been building their army of fans ever since by doing nothing less than playing balls-to-the-wall metal everywhere they go. And now they've released their long-awaited follow up to their debut, Anthems of the Damned. Let's get the skinny.

Steelcrusher starts out right, with artwork by the infamous Andreas Marschall, who's done work for In Flames, Hammerfall and Blind Guardian. The image says it all; some guy dressed kind of like the Barbarian Leader from Heavy Metal and brandishing a giant, blood-stained hammer gives the finger to a formidable looking monster chick on a dragon who must be really hard to shop for at Christmas.

But the proof is in the pudding, and Hammercult makes a mean pudding, man. After the obligatory introductory theme, the boys kick into the title track that sounds like nothing less than a blitzkrieg of thrashy goodness with a nice anthemic feel to its spacious mix. And shit don't let up from there, from the kick ass moshing riot of Metal Rules Tonight to the final track In The Name of the Fallen you will be at risk of headbanging your teeth right out of your head. These guys are the real deal.

The Bottom Line: Yes, Virginia, there are still bands that come to rock the fuck out of a joint. And this band's name is Hammercult. If you're in the mood for drinking, headbanging and generally tearing some shit up, this band's got your number, mate.

Tracks To Play If You Hate Your Neighbors: Burning The Road, Into Hell, Heading For War

- Genghis wonders if this album comes with a loincloth...


Nervosa - Victim of Yourself

Everything about this album is classic thrash metal. I mean look at this album cover. Fucking awesome it is.Everybody knows that South America is a hotbed of metal mania. So, it should come as little surprise to anyone that a trio of Brazilian youths who grew up listening to heavy music should form their own metal band. And so Nervosa was born, culminating in their anticipated debut album, Victim Of Yourself.

Honestly, this is one really great thrash album in the truest sense of the genre; it's raw as hell, has powerful riffs, classic death metal-style snarling vocals, and an energy that can't be manufactured in a mixing board. Everyone is firing on all cylinders, and there's an authenticity that comes out in every track that affirms this as a band of like-minded musicians that just wants to destroy you with its music. There's a clear influence of the early works of Slayer and Metallica, and I would love to see this band perform live - assuming, of course, I survive the experience.

The Bottom Line: This is simply one of the most honest and raw classic thrash metal albums I've heard in a long time. Nervosa is yet another great band that proves Brazil is a growing and powerful force in the realm of heavy metal. Bom trabalho!

Tracks That Will Make You Dig Out Your Old Denim Jacket: Twisted Values, Envious, Into Mosh Pit, and Deep Misery

- Genghis has a new crush (Por favor, me chame, Fernanda!)...