And the cream of tomorrow’s top releases include Century Media stable mates Iwrestledabearonce (pictured) and Witherscape.
There’s also new music from Zebrahead, SOiL and Jettblack.
Plus we review and rate the latest release from metal-as-anything Panzerchrist.
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
Courtney LaPlante’s recording debut with Louisiana metalcore upstarts Iwrestledabearonce is a crushing and uber-confident response to those who cast doubt on the band’s longevity in the wake of former vocalist Krysta Cameron’s departure.
One listen to Late For Nothing and it becomes clear that this record will eclipse the surprise chart success and critical acclaim of predecessor Ruining It For Everybody – the surreal Snake Charmer and soaring Boat Paddle (with LaPlante excelling) announcing IWABO as serious players on the heavy scene.
Pushing the envelope where expansive, genre-defying metalcore is concerned, this is the sound of a wildly creative quintet mixing unrelenting rhythms with atmospheric programming to create the perfect package of cerebral noise. The progressive interlude midway through Firebees is inspired.
For a while the leftfield IWABO looked destined to champion the underground scene without ever opening up to a wider audience. That was then. Late For Nothing is an early contender as the most vital metalcore release this year. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Bear Necessities
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Death Metal
Denmark, unlike its Scandinavian neighbours, isn’t known for being a hotbed of extreme metal, but that hasn’t stopped Panzerchrist carving out a nice bloody niche for themselves over the last couple of decades.
And while the death metal of The 7th Offensive might be slick, polished and spiced up with some occasional electronic touches, it still crushes without mercy when it needs to. Even the more melodic, mid-paced tracks, such as the exceptional pairing of Mass Attack Of The Lycanthrope Legion and Kill For Revenge, are given extra beef by the deep, from the bowels-of-hell growl of vocalist Søren Tintin Lønholdt.
Does this opus offer enough to propel Panzerchrist into the death metal big league? Not quite. But their seventh full length should be an enjoyable ride for many DM heads, hoping for some respite from both the techy widdlers and the old school Entombed worshippers – and it’s proof too, that the Danes still have plenty left in the tank. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Armour-Plated
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
There’s been quite a buzz surrounding the debut release from extreme metal legend Dan Swano’s latest band and the dark, brooding and frequently brutal The Inheritance more than justifies the hype.
Fans of Edge Of Sanity, classic Opeth and just about every expansive Scando metal mob of the past 15 years will flock to Witherscape like long-haired loons to a sweaty mosh pit.
Lead single Dead For A Day is laced with devilish intent and The Inheritance’s series of concepts within a concept ensure no one tune can be skipped. Opener Mother Of The Soul seethes with mixed emotion and the closer and title track is rich reward for those who stick with this record from start to finish.
Swano is a one-man metal machine and his legacy remains undiminished in the wake of this other-worldly release. Witherscape could top the lot. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 ‘Scape Crusader
Genre: Nu Metal
It’s 15 years since three quarters of death metal crew Oppressor joined forced with Ryan McCoombs to create the nu-metal beast that became SOiL. A flood of water has flowed under the bridge since the doom-laden early days that saw a one-time side project morph into a major metal player.
And now McCoombs is back fronting the band for the first time since 2004’s Redefine: it’s no surprise that Whole is SOiL’s best abum for almost a decade.
But even with McCoombs at the helm the Chicago band was never that good. Redefine and predecessor Scars were only ever second division at best – decent records that jumped on the back of the nu-metal revolution and briefly propelled SOiL into the mainstream.
Whole won’t usher in a new era of commercial and critical acclaim. At best the generic bluster of The Hate Song and Way Gone will appease SOiL fans desperate for new material from the band’s classic line-up. At worst Whole is a painful reminder of just how many distinctly average bands the nu-metal scene spawned in a relatively brief period of time. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 SOiLed
Genre: Hard Rock/Hair Metal
Keen to keep the momentum racing, UK rockers Jettblack have cannily filled in time between last summer’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Raining Rock and next year’s follow-up with this supercharged collection of reworked ‘classics’, favourite covers and unreleased session tracks.
In essence, then, any self-respecting Jettblack fan will have heard much of this before, albeit at a slightly different pace. But Black Gold proves there’s a little more to the posing quartet than their trademark denim, leather, ripped six packs and clichéd chorus-driven hard rock.
In fact Black Gold is about as diverse as Jettblack will ever get. Theirs is a tried and tested formula for rock rooted in the 80s and there’s no obvious reason to tinker with a winning play.
The reworked version of Black Gold – featuring Black Star Riders’ Damon Johnson – is a testosterone-fuelled opener kicking things off in typically rousing style but it’s the Motorhead cover Name In Vain that will raise one or two (dyed and plucked) eyebrows.
Lighter-waving fans of MTV’s glorious unplugged era will lap up the acoustic version of Prison Of Love while Fade Away, from the Get Your Hands Dirty sessions, is another hair metal hit that never was. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Gold Standard
Genre: Pop Punk
Zebrahead have been around the block. They know what they do and they do it well – and just like bands such as Bowling For Soup, they write songs that stay young even as they grow old.
Call Your Friends is their 10th studio album and contains elements of their distinct pop/punk sound. But also incorporated into the 14 tracks here is some rocking rap and a sound that is reminiscent of a Billy Talent record from the beginning of 2003.
But above all it’s a fun album that speaks to anyone with who likes a dash of humour to go alongside their punk/pop rock and roll. It includes song titles traditional to a band of that ilk, including I’m Just Here for the Free Beer and With Friends Like These Who Needs Herpes.
But just because they play music with a cheeky smile and verve doesn’t make them any less serious musicians – and that’s exactly what this is.
A seriously fun album and, above all, a good one. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 ‘Head’s Up