It’s Sunday so it’s reviews day and after last week’s melodic feast there’s a decidedly heavy feel to to this week’s hottest releases. Plus a cracking compilation from Kerrang!…

Trivium – Shogun (Roadrunner)

Slated as the saviours of thrash metal following Metallica’s demise, what does the future hold for this brutal bunch of hard-hitting heavies now their heroes have returned to form? With Death Magnetic setting fresh standards in the world of rock now might not be the best time for the pupils to challenge the masters.

Fortunately for Trivium they are four albums into a pretty impressive career and confidence is hardly lacking on Shogun. It’s a cocksure statement of Floridian bravado and sits comfortably alongside Metallica’s latest as one of 2008’s essential releases.

Frontman Matt Heafy displays a deft talent for tackling the full spectrum of rock vocals and once fist pumping opener Kirisute Gomen has left you battered and bruised you’re in the mood for a full-on onslaught. The only way is up for this autumn’s Unholy Alliance headliners.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Shogun Fires On All Cylinders

Holy Moses – Agony Of Death (SPV)

If Trivium’s latest is heavy then this uncompromising record could crush an entire city under the sheer weight of Sabina Classen’s trademark growling and some stunning thrash riffage.

This is Teutonic rock par excellence from a band which shows no signs of slowing down 12 albums into a prolific career. And if there’s nothing radically different here then Agony Of Death still delivers enough twists and turns to keep die-hard fans and intrigued newbies alike.

Boasting a who’s who of the heavier stuff as special guests – members of Obituary, Death, Destruction and Demolition regularly pop up – there are some truly slick moments. Angels In War and the epic Dissociative Disorder are obvious highlights and if you’ve never heard Holy Moses this isn’t a bad place to start.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 From Agony To Ecstasy

Todd Rundgren – Arena (Hi-Fi Recordings)

There was a time when rushonrock wouldn’t have touched multi-talented Todd with the proverbial barge pole but this is, quite possibly, the crazy dude’s rockingest record to date.

Arena, as the title suggests, is an album capturing the flavour or arena rock in Rundgren’s eyes and as such it’s a very listenable study of a modern musical phenomenon. From hair metal riffs to Jovi-esque choruses it could almost be a piss-take if it wasn’t so good.

The brilliant Mercenary probably captures the mood of this surprisingly accessible release best – close your eyes and you could be in a state-of-the-art venue, on a numbered seat, enjoying great acoustics, a massive light show and warm beer from a plastic glass. Or in an Arena.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Arena Deserves An Audience

Kerrang! The Album 08 (Rhino Records)

In this brave new world of cheap as chips downloads, legal and illegal file sharing and websites streaming singles 24/7 it’s impossible to know how well a metal compilation will sell. But if anyone can sell it then it’s Kerrang!.

The industry leader for all things new and noisy knows its audience inside out and there are all the bands currently keeping the kids keen on this rich and varied collection. Whether you covet Kill Hannah, go stir crazy for Scars On Broadway or feint at the mere metion of Fall Out Boy they’re all here in their fashionable glory.

In addition chart heroes Nickelback, Kid Rock and Green Day appeal to a wider audience and newbies The Gaslight Anthem and You Me At Six get the chance to peddle their wares to a wider audience. It’s unlikely you’ll own something by everyone on here and it’s worth a listen in case there’s something you’re missing.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 The Soundtrack Of Your Year

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (SPV)

Like label mates Holy Moses there’s not much you can teach the old dogs of Metal Church after almost 30 years thrashing their way through the US, Europe and beyond.

By the mid 1980s these US noiseniks were setting standards alongside the likes of Metallica but where their one-time tour buddies took off, the Church was in decline and by 1993 and the inevitable split had happened.

Six years later the band was back and a decade down the line from that much-heralded reunion it’s safe to say these true rock survivors have rarely sounded better. Perhaps inspired by Metallica’s retrun to form, Metal Church have chosen to use The Present Wasteland as evidence that they, too, are by no means finished. Tracks like Perfect Crime and Meet Your Maker showcase ‘new’ vocalist Ronny Munroe’s best talents and next year’s world tour should be something.

rushonrock rated: 5/10 Church With Bells On