And today we cast our eyes over 14 of the hottest releases ready to rock your summer.
We review and rate new records from Megadeth, Tesseract, Filter and Tristania (pictured).
There’s new music from Stonehouse, The Quill, Sound Of Contact, Fejd, Age Of Taurus and King Parrot.
And we focus on Church Of Misery, Dew Scented, Eldkraft and Press To Meco.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Thrash Metal
Megadeth are on a roll. With Endgame, Thirteen and, now, Super Collider the mercurial Dave Mustaine has hit top form with a hat-trick of modern metal classics. And Super Collider is the most accessible and surprising of the lot.
Already criticised by one major metal mag for being too ‘classic rock’ it’s hardly Thin Lizzy. Built For War is about as brutal as it gets – even where Megadeth is concerned – and even the band’s lighter moments are heavier than your average HGV.
But it’s true this is no lesson in traditional Bay Area thrash metal. Mustaine has matured both as a songwriter and as an individual prone to ill-advised public outbursts. There is, indeed, material here that will appeal to fans of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal and the pure thrash fury is rationed.
What Super Collider does offer is a feast of diverse metal treats proving Megadeth still have what it takes to rip up the rule book and remain acutely relevant. Mustaine might have revelled in his ability to polarise fans in the past but in 2013 he’s penned a record more likely to unite the metal masses. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Super Duper
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Doom metal
By calling time on their 20 year plus career, Cathedral have left a huge chasm in the British doom scene. But Age of Taurus seem more than capable of stepping into the void.
Signed to Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorrian’s label, the quartet are metal to the core, fusing their obvious adoration of trad doom – Trouble, Candlemass, those blokes from Aston – with hard-edged, NWOBHM crunch. Combined this with a true gasp of the ‘epic’ (Embrace The Stone a perfect example), plus songwriting flair that most contemporary Sabbath disciples would give their last SG for, and you have an instant hit.
And it’s not just the titanic, mountain-smashing riffs, or thunderous grooves witnessed on the likes of A Rush Of Power which light up this album: frontman Toby Wright was simply born to sing these songs, his rich, distinctive tones adding further grandeur to an already mighty slab of metal.
A classic debut, a statement of intent… Desperate Souls is the sound of a band in love with the past, but heading for a bright future. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Taking The Bull By The Horns
Genre: Extreme Metal/Grindcore
Sweat drenched, graffiti-covered basement venues were made for bands like King Parrot. But their fixtures and fittings would probably take one hell of a battering if the quartet showed up.
For on Bite Your Head Off, the Melbourne mob smack you around the chops (and then give you a good kicking on the floor ) with track after track of rapid-fire sonic mayhem.
Chucking grind, hardcore, death metal, crossover and punk together and kicking it all at you with gleeful abandon, these Aussies don’t mess about…even if song titles like A Blaze In The Northern Suburbs do.
And credit must be given to producers Jason Fuller and Adam Calaitzis for capturing King Parrot’s intensity. The duo bring frontman Youngy and his cohorts straight into your front room, whether you want them there or not.
OK, so Bite Your Head Off isn’t going to redefine extremity, but if you like a good ol’ Napalm Death style tear-up once in a while, it’s well worth the snapped limbs. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Head Cases
Genre: Doom metal
They may deal in some very grisly subject matter, mass murderers to be precise, but there’s nothing particularly gloomy about this Japanese quartet. The Tokyo outfit instead offer up psych-infused, heavier than hell doom, that really, really rocks.
They love Sabbath, they love groove and they love having a good old wig-out. Most of all, Church Of Misery love huge, full-fat, downtuned riffs… and Thy Kingdom Scum is full of them. New guitarist Ikuma Kawabe wields his axe like an old master, and his fuzz-fuelled hooks are made even more powerful by Tatsu Mikami’s exuberant, bubbling bass lines.
Vocalist Hideki Fukasawa – returning for his second stint with the group – tops it all off with a hardcore-tinged growl, adding an aggressive edge to songs like Brother Bishop (Gary Heidnik) which might appeal to fans of NOLA sludgers Eyehategod.
Four albums in, and Church Of Misery are still putting smiles on faces…and proving themselves to be serial thrillers once again. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Riff Worship
Genre: Epic metal
Their moniker might imply that Eldkraft are some kind of twee folk metal band, all pipes, accordions and silly face paint.
The Swedish trio, however, are a more serious proposition – Shaman is an album packed with dramatic melodies, iron-clad riffs and thunderous drumming, one which opens a portal to misty, ancient lands, where the old gods hold sway.
Bathory’s ‘viking’ period is an obvious influence on the likes of Gammal Krigare and Granslos Grans but Eldkraft have their own, unique take on epic metal – something in no small part down to J.Sandin’s distinctive, deep baritone. His vocal style is an acquired taste, granted, and not everyone will welcome it.
But it does give this debut a sombre, foreboding tone, when it might have been easier to opt for a more conventional approach – or bog standard, black metal rasp.
An intriguing effort, Shaman is epic, Jim, but not as we know it…RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Kraft-Work
Genre: Thrash metal
Thrashing is their business… and business, for 20 years, has been good in the Dew Scented camp. The Germans are celebrating two decades in the metal game with this generous, 19-track opus, boasting live songs, covers, bonus material from 2010’s Invocation and 2012’s Icarus album sessions, and even some fresh efforts laid down this year.
You can almost taste the flying dandruff when Cities Of The Dead rips into life, a track recorded – along with six other songs featured here – at the band’s 2012 hometown show in Walsrode. The band were clearly on form that night…with vocalist Leif Jensen engaged in some serious rabble rousing.
Elsewhere, Dew Scented embrace their love of hardcore with The Storm, a moody, menacing little number by New York straightedgers Judge and Good Day For A Hanging, plundered from LA mob Wasted Youth, while the brand-new Guided By The Dead Light is typical of the quintet’s slick, chrome plated style, although it’s a particularly brutal example.
A treat for die-hard fans – and a great introduction to the band for the uninitiated – Insurgent is a worthy way to celebrate an important anniversary. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Prost!
Press to Meco have only released one EP before Affinity – their second EP – and they sound like a band still very much in its developmental stage.
Coming across like a young Biffy Clyro in parts – and like Smashing Pumpkins without the haunting, ghostly vocals of Billy Corgan – Press To Meco have put together five songs that showcase their talent in a clear and concise manner.
Opening up with Affinity, which initially sounds disjointed but quickly morphs into a rock song with big noise and an infectious chorus, the three-piece from London set the scene.
In many ways, Affinity is a body of work of great contradictions. The music and the lyrical content don’t really match.
Lyrically, the EP covers such themes as death and mental illness, while musically their all-out, raw approach yields results that get folks up and out of their seats.
“Tell me I’m unorthodox,” sings Luke Caley. Press to Meco don’t just tell people they’re unorthodox, they shout it. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Press Play
Genre: Alt Metal
Suddenly those quirky alt metal newbies Filter are celebrating their 20th anniversary. And if you’re wondering where the time has gone then a lot of it must have been taken up pulling together the career-defining opus The Sun Comes Out Tonight.
Title Of Record (1999) and The Amalgamut (2002) might have bothered the US Hot 100 but neither matches up to Filter’s brand new record when it comes to endearing diversity, widespread appeal and surprising dexterity.
With founder Richard Patrick still at the helm – alongside a trio of hired hands with no more than six years’ service between them – it seems the fusion of new and old is working a treat.
We Hate It When You Get What You Want boasts an industrial growl with a nasty F-word refrain while Surprise is an upbeat, poppy affair featuring 80s-stle keys in the chorus. And then there’s the electronic dance rock of Watch The Sun – a tune that could easily be the feelgood hit for the summer.
With more twists and turns than a Cleveland highway this is Filter’s most triumphant and unpredictable album to date. Prepare to be amazed. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Filterrific
Genre: Prog Metal
Making a djent in the progressive metal movement is no easy task but the Brit metal maestros of Tesseract take such challenges in their stride.
The follow-up to 2011’s aptly-titled debut One takes that record’s belief, bravado and bullish assault on the senses and adds the suave sophistication required to rule a genre demanding something different.
Of Mind-Nocturn is an intriguing case in point. Mixing an industrial-influenced intro with a strong hard rock vocal it’s Tesseract at their teasing best and represents a band willing to speculate to accumulate.
And there’s surely no doubt that Altered State will pull in a legion of new fans – if there’s any justice in the world of metal.
This is a record that can’t be fully appreciated in one truncated sitting but give Tesseract the time and devotion they deserve and the rewards could be vast. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 State Of Flux
Genre: Blues Rock
Wales’ best kept secret? Nope, it’s not Tom Jones’ fellow countryman and The Voice hopeful Ragsy (a decent singer with a cracking set of pipes) – we’re talking bastions of blues rock Stonehouse.
Junction is rammed full of emotive and evocative gems ranging from the countrified Lonely Girl to the hard rocking Ceidwad (sung in the band’s native tongue and all the better for it) and the Bad Company-influenced Take My Soul.
But it’s on the stunning Stricken Tree where Stonehouse set out their stall. Think a bluesy Mr Big swapping the Hollywood hills for the valleys of Snowdonia and giving everything they’ve got in the name of rock.
Vocalist Colin Roberts is a star just waiting to shine and with Junction the sky could be the limit for the latest classy crooner to roll off the Welsh production line. Looking for The Voice? Find it right here. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 House About That?
Genre: Hard Rock/Post Grunge
Confidently pulling off a sound that sits somewhere between vintage Soundgarden, classic Clutch, 60s psychedelica and doom-laded Sabbath, Swedish retro lords The Quill have come out of nowhere to challenge fellow countrymen Free Fall for our album of the year title.
The stoner rock stars have moved on from 2011’s patchy Full Circle to produce a masterful record more in common with the band’s beefy back catalogue.
Go Crazy leans on sound born out of a heavy blues rock funk while Death Valley is a heady mix of Black Hole Sun-era Chris Cornell and Alice In Chains at their challenging best.
Getaway’s Beatles-esque chorus works surprisingly well within a rigid, sludgy 70s-influenced framework and the bass line underpinning Purgatory Hill has a mysterious and addictive quality all of its own.
The Quill have always been capable of producing quality metal for the more discerning fans. But the brilliant Tiger Blood suggests they’ve spent two decades scratching the surface only to finally find the secret to perfection. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Quilliant
Genre: Progressive Rock
The inaugural Hard Rock Hell Prog festival, held in Rotherham earlier this year, proved beyond doubt that these are heady times for a genre so often vilified and mocked down the decades.
Sound Of Contact, featuring Phil Collins’ son Simon, add weight to that belief with the accomplished Dimensionaut delivering on just about every level.
Pale Blue Dot might boast one of the more ridiculous song titles of 2013 but behind the seemingly ordinary name lies a phenomenal tune – its Marillion meets Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis sound ticking all the prog boxes and then some.
Sound Of Contact sensibly pay due homage to the 70s and 80s greats but nevertheless carve out a compelling identity all of their own. The sprawling, haunting Not Coming Down clocks in at an impressive six minutes and every second’s worth hearing.
But nothing truly compares to 19-minute epic Mobius Slip – an epic prog classic that has no right to feature on a debut album. But it’s just one reason why Dimensionaut is not your average debut album. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Contact Lens
Genre: Nordic Medieval Folk Metal
With 2010’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Eifur, the Swedes of Fejd scored an album that threatened to set them apart from rivals dominating the congested folk metal scene. Disappointingly Nagelfar shows no sign of a band moving forward – in fact too much of this average album is the sound of complacent musicians stuck in a rut.
Having forged a reputation for genre-leading soundscapes – missing traditional folk with melodic metal – it seems Fejd have opted to play safe and re-write Eifur all over again.
There are still the haunting strings, guttural vocals, affecting keys and epic twists but even standout tracks Jordens Smycke and Sigurd Ring lack the passion of Ledung or Alvas Halling.
Nagalfar isn’t a nightmarish disaster but it’s no folk metal game changer. Fejd are better, bolder and more beguiling than this bloated record suggests. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Fejd Away
Genre: Gothic Metal
Trying to explain the uneasy juxtaposition of Anders Høyvik Hidle’s harsh vocals and Mariangela Demurtas’s uplifting melodies is surely beyond most music critics.
On the one hand Tristania boast a ‘singer’ who sounds like he’s swallowed a roll of sandpaper and washed it down with acid. And on the other there’s a vocalist who wouldn’t sound out of place taking the lead role in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
Thrown together the pair just don’t work. It’s not even chalk and cheese – it’s chalk and curdled milk. The anthemic title track sees Hidle attempt a more user-friendly approach but without Demurtas’s unique input the song has no obvious hook.
Einar Moen’s keys, like Demurtas’s sweeter refrains, suffer at the hands of Tristania’s focus on the heavier side of metal but listen hard enough and it’s possible to enjoy a multi-talented musician at the top of his game.
Darkest White is often engrossing but all too often frustrating. At their best Tristania produce a unique sound peers can only hope to emulate but at their worst this is a band enslaved by sheer volume. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Black And White