Leading the way is the legendary Tom Petty while Pirate metallers Alestorm (pictured) return to the fray.
There’s new music from Nachmystium and Entombed AD. Plus we run the rule over Rainbows Are Free.
And we review and rate the latest sounds from Brimstone Coven and Wovenwar.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. Plus we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Black Metal
The World We Left Behind is aptly named, as Nachtmystium mainman Blake Judd has called time on the band… and is now battling to overcome his personal problems, rather than making new music.
That’s a crying shame, as the act he’s masterminded since 2000 has shown how black metal can break its chains and soar into new territories. 2006’s Instinct: Decay was shrouded in Floyd-esque psychedelica, and the twin Black Meddle albums, embracing everything from acid rock to dark post-punk, are simply a must-hear.
Although The World We Left Behind doesn’t match that duo’s sheer majesty, it nevertheless serves as a reminder of how great a songwriter Judd is. Whether he’s playing it (pretty) straight – Into The Endless Abyss boasts blast beats and lacerating tremolo picking – or making bold statements, such as incorporating soulful female vocals into the stunning Epitaph For A Dying Star, Judd’s supreme talent shines through. On The Other Side, for instance, is just a great rock tune, plain and simple. And lyrically, it’s an open and honest one too.
Nachtmystium are unlikely to stage a grand reunion tour. But extreme metal needs talents like Blake Judd, and the sooner he gets his teeth into another project, the better. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Leaving Present
BEST OF THE REST
By the time 2012’s Awakened hit the shelves, As I Lay Dying had arguably transcended metalcore and started their ascent into metal’s big league. But AILD’s wheels understandably came off with the news that frontman Tim Lambesis had been arrested for attempting to hire a hitman to kill his estranged wife. Lambesis is now serving time for his crime, but his downfall hasn’t deterred his former bandmates from carrying on, and in Wovenwar, they have a new outlet for their great talent.
Featuring Oh Sleeper’s Shane Blay on vocals, Wovenwar are a more melodic proposition than AILD – Blay sings ‘clean’, and his voice is packed with power and emotional intensity. There are no roaring ‘core’ vocals in sight, and although Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso’s distinctive, classy riffing remains from their AILD days, the quintet’s songwriting is sufficiently evolved to ensure Wovenwar have their own identity. The San Diego outfit can be a little repetitive in places, but there are some real gems to be found here, with Sight Of Shore, Archers and the pounding Matter Of Time prime examples.
An assured, confident debut, then, from a band who already know how to deliver. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 War Games
Genre: Heavy Metal/Stoner Rock
If the title of epic opener Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell doesn’t readily roll of the tongue then its bone-crunching riffs, doom-laden vocals and stoner-tinged groove will rumble around your head for weeks.
It’s a stunning scene setter for a record that may be retro heavy (check the references to 1999 and 1983 in back-to-back tracks) but slots seamlessly into a revivalist scene fronted by The Sword and High On Fire. In fact fans of both genre leaders will love everything about Rainbows Are Free.
If it doesn’t cost a penny to enjoy a kaleidoscope of colour then there is a price to pay for those brave enough to tackle Waves Ahead Of The Ocean. Prepare to be mentally bludgeoned by a punishing combination of fuzzed-up ferocity and spaced out lyrics that never let up.
Lighter moments – or the less heavy bits – allow frontman Brandon Kistler to demonstrate there’s more to his foreboding tone than the full-on brooding that’s prevalent on the majority of this darkly endearing record. But Rainbows Are Free are all about the heaviness and that’s where this monster metal unit excel. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Chasing Rainbows
Genre: Alt Rock
With more than 40 years in the music business, you’d forgive Tom Petty for running low on fresh ideas. However, the 63-year-old Floridian and his Heartbreakers prove there’s life in the old dog yet with the latest addition to their extensive repertoire.
Fault Lines invites you on a ride along Ron Blair’s smooth, bass-laden highway, arriving at the winding guitar solo that has been a staple of the Heartbreakers’ arsenal for years.
The sextet channel Carlos Santana in the mellow Full Grown Boy, while Power Drunk conjures images of a sunset airboat cruise along the renowned Florida Everglades.
A Heartbreakers’ effort isn’t complete without a foot-stomping rock-and-roller and U Get Me High delivers, echoing the classic Refugee from 1980‘s Damn the Torpedoes.
Time may have aged Petty, but it hasn’t blunted his ear for a great rock tune. Jamie Durent
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Petty-cularly good
Genre: Pirate Metal
It’s incredible that pirate metal maniacs Alestorm have never before penned a tune about walking the plank: Walk The Plank fills an obvious gap in their back catalogue. And four albums in it’s difficult to believe that drinking song Drink (the chorus is genius) has never seen the light of day until now.
Both songs are proof that Alestorm treat their role as genre leaders very seriously indeed and as an opening salvo they blast through the clichés with all the ferocity of a naval deck cannon. Wooden Leg and Hangover continue the theme and all that’s missing is a tune about a parrot and an eye patch (both are bound to have been covered in the past).
But Alestorm save the best until last with the epic title track – clocking in at more than 11 minutes – suggesting there may even be a serious side to a band renowned for their celebration of seafaring excess. Of course it’s not a very serious side. This is Alestorm, after all. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Music Piracy
Genre: Death Metal
After the departure of original guitarist Alex Hellid, this new incarnation of the legendary deathsters should perhaps be called Entombed A.A. (after Alex), such is the significance of his exit, which leaves frontman LG Petrov as the only remaining original Entombed member.
It’s also been seven years since the release of the underwhelming Seven Saints – The Ten Amendments, during which time a slew of bands have taken Entombed’s heavy as hell blueprint and run with it. So there’s understandably an air of anticipation around this album.
Does it deliver? To an extent, yes. The hook-laden, ‘death ‘n’ roll’ style the Swedes pioneered on albums like Wolverine Blues runs deep through Second To None and Bait And Bleed, and there’s a fearsome groove to much of Back To The Front. Plus, you’ll also feel the full effect of Petrov’s fearsome, unmistakeable roar.
Twenty-four years after Left Hand Path, and the guy still as a throat Satan would be proud of.
However, although there are plenty of nice riffs on show, they lack the muscle to truly devastate – something Hellid would surely have offered. And in an age where their contemporaries (Carcass, Autopsy) are creating some of their best work, this lacks the creative spark that lit up albums like Clandestine. A welcome return then, but not as spectacular as we’d hoped. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Tomb Raiders
Genre: Doom/Retro Rock
Yet another band to lazily tag as ‘occult rock’ thanks to their psychedelic cover art, retro-doom riffs – and songs about portals and séances, Brimstone Coven will make you shake your denim-clad rump like it’s 1970.
The US band’s third opus is packaged with their debut EP, and it’s actually the earlier material – such as the acid-fried Lost In The Odyssey and the hard rockin’ Children Of The Sun – which makes the greatest impact here. In fact, it’s pretty damned awesome.
However, elsewhere things get a bit clichéd, and tracks like The Grave and Behold, The Anunnaki, just don’t have the riffs to compete with the many Iommi-worshipping occultists Brimstone Coven will undoubtedly be lumped with.
But the quartet undoubtedly have a lot going for them and Blood On The Wall, the pick of their new material, is effortlessly cool.
Now where did I leave that pentagram…RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Far Out