We check out scary Sunderland mob Wodensthrone (pictured) as they release the hotly anticipated follow-up to Loss.
And we review and rate the latest offerings from Paradise Lost, High On Fire, Wolfbrigade, Torche, Mekong Delta and a cracking compilation from Holy Moses.
But to lighten the mood there’s more traditional metal from Running Wild and another reissue of glam rock gold in the shape of T-Rex‘s Electric Warrior.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we give you everything you need to know about the BEST OF THE REST from the worlds of rock and metal.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Black Metal
Combining the fury of jet black metal, channeled through a decidedly nasty vocal delivery, with progressive rock and melodic metal, the boys from Wodensthrone continue to develop a brutal yet beautiful sound.
Formed during a bleak North East winter six-and-half years ago, there was never any likelihood of Sunderland’s finest crafting singalong pop for the mass market. Wodensthrone are far more serious than that and theirs is the sound of a million dark thoughts wrapped up in a soundscape straight from beyond the wall in a particularly brutal episode of Game Of Thrones.
The Great Darkness is a snarling beast of a track, sandwiched in between two 10 minute-plus epics, and tells you everything you need to know about one of black metal’s most exciting prospects. Crunching, angular axe work, combined with a chanted vocal intro builds the atmosphere to chilling effect and then all hell breaks loose as Wodensthrone let rip.
With stage names dreamt up in the midst of some folk metal nightmare and more hair than your average woolly mammoth it’s encouraging to report that five of the most dangerous looking blokes you’ll ever meet boast the image to match their mesmeric music.
Head into the eye of The Storm and you can’t fail to be impressed with the technicality of the music and the passion of the delivery. The black sheep of the metal family are more focused and fearsome than ever – don’t ignore their massive potential. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Storm Warning
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Heavy Metal
Make no mistake: Running Wild have a happy knack for making memorable metal anthems rooted in the mid-80s and guaranteed to get reformed moshers everywhere right back in the groove.
Never tempted to do anything new – at least not since the success of 1987’s Under Jolly Roger – the tried and tested formula employed by Rolf Kasparek sounds as vibrant as ever on the first Running Wild studio album for seven years.
Even if the band’s finer moments sound, at best, like Blaze Bayley-era Maiden there’s much to be said for tunes like Riding On The Tide and Black Shadow. Standout Me + The Boys manages to shoehorn in a neat ‘running wild’ reference and this is one long pirate-themed party from start to finish.
Enjoy with a bottle of rum and a copy of Jack Sparrow’s latest on DVD. You won’t be disappointed. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Still Running
Genre: Stoner Metal
Supremely skilled in playing the kind of music perfect for downing a four-pack of industrial strength supermarket lager to, while surrounded by spaced-out crusties in a smoke-filled room, Torche are carving themselves quite a niche as the masters of post-grunge pseudo misery.
Yet there are times during Harmonicraft that it’s all smiles and pats on the back with some genuinely chirpy pop rock riffs infiltrating the trademark sludge. Snakes Are Charmed relies on a wonderful electrified riff to create something akin to the best of Britpop with a Therapy?-style kick up the arse.
Somehow managing to strike the right balance between wild optimism and downright depression this is an album of contrasts that could blow your mind or cause you to explode with rage.
Torche remain defiantly unique and definitely relevant. But it’s too early to say whether Harmonicraft will stand up to Steve Brooks’ earlier work – let alone stand the test of time. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Torche Battery
Swedish crust punks Wolfbrigade are fast morphing into one of the most brutal metal acts on the planet. If Lemmy got really angry (imagine, say, someone nicked his entire Nazi memorabilia collection – the lot) then Damned is the sound he would create.
Road To Dreams rolls along at a rollicking pace, the band barely pausing for breath as heartfelt vocals bounce off a brutal wall of sound. Mixing the punch of punk with the meat of metal this is an album that boasts broad appeal and a shed load of future mosh pit favourites.
At their thrashiest on the pummelling Hurricane Veins, the Wolfbrigade pack take no prisoners and ran home their point. It’s utterly relentless and will cause incurable earache unless the volume is carefully controlled.
Then again there’s nothing careful or controlled about Damned – listen to this and you will be. Damned, that is. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Wolf Bites
Genre: Doom Metal/Gothic Metal
More classic metal than most Paradise Lost records you can lay your hands on, Tragic Idol is another triumph for bravery, diversity and sheer bloody mindedness.
The Halifax band have, bizarrely, become pretty cool during the last five years after a period when, it appeared, only family and close friends could be bothered to listen to their latest album.
It’s acclaim that is long overdue for one of the true treasures of the UK metal scene and Tragic Idol is the perfect follow-up to 2009’s terrific Faith Divides Us…Death United Us.
Nick Holmes’ vocals are near perfect – in a sneering, imperfect way. Greg Makintosh’s lead guitar work is dazzling and on the trippy Fear Of Impending Hell the peerless Paradise Lost leave the opposition for dead with a shimmering sheet of Hetfield-esque must-hear modern metal. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 True Paradise
Genre: Stoner Metal
Giving occasional tour buddies Torche a real run for their money, the high volume, low maintenence metal heads of High On Fire have delivered again – just.
De Vermis Mysteriis is another monster of an album from Matt Pike and his mates but the disappointing thing is this: it doesn’t represent an obvious step forward from the 2010 RUSHONROCK RATED 7/10 Snakes For The Divine.
Pike, in particular, still comes across as never entirely comfortable with vocals that would ask too much of many men and often leave the High On Fire singer struggling to make his mark. Is it a lack of confidence, a lack of power, a lack of direction or a little bit of all three?
The music, once again, is heavier than your average articulated lorry and tunes like Fertile Green are so furious a red mist descends every time it’s aired. High On Fire are more metal than most but their metal is still mostly potential and only a small part proven quality. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Mysteriis Case Of Mediocrity
Genre: Thrash Metal
Still one of the most familiar voices on the thrash metal scene, cool-as-fuck Sabina Classen can still out-shout women (and most men) half her age.
Those seeking compelling evidence need look no further than a collection of Holy Moses classics given a fresh outing to celebrate three decades of noise for noise’s sake.
The booming World Chaos, brooding Borderland and aptly titled Reborn Dogs are the go-to anthems on a compilation that pulls together a slew of fan favourites and throws in a couple of new tracks for good measure.
Classen is an enduring symbol of metal power mixed with female prowess and an individual who continues to blaze the trail despite 30 years in an unforgiving business. The 60th anniversary compilation can’t come soon enough! SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Holy Chapter
Genre: Progressive Metal
The Healer, four songs into Intersections, opens up like it should belong to the new Rush album and swiftly develops into something Dream Theatre would be proud to call their own. Mekong Delta might sound like the most ridiculous band you’ve never heard but their music demands attention.
Prior to The Healer, the energetic Sphere Eclipse is just as impressive in an Iron Maiden kind of way. Frontman Martin LeMar has more than a bit of the Bruce Dickinsons about him as he lets out a slew of histrionic high notes but proves equally adept at plunging the grisly depths.
In a week when heavy music is dominating, Mekong Delta manage to stand out from the crowd with a killer release putting progressive metal centre stage. Wholly unexpected – and more of a treat for it – Intersections is a richly rewarding listen.
Twenty-five years since the release of their bold debut, Mekong Delta’s latest line-up are making a play to be classed as the best. On this evidence a swift reappraisal of the past is necessary. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Mekong Delicious
Genre: Glam Rock
Celebrating Record Store Day 2012 with a box set version of the band’s 1971 number one album, Universal have pulled out all the stops to give Marc Bolan’s career-defining opus its latest makeover. Here we’re dealing with the simple double disc CD edition but even in the absence of all the added extras the music remains incomparable.
More than 40 years since glam rock came of age – on the back of global smash Get It On and Jeepster – it’s incredible that Electric Warrior still sounds so exciting, so over-produced and so overwhelming. But it does. In fact these days it sounds better than ever before.
Listening to Bolan it’s so easy to conjure an image of the ultimate megastar: fusing musical talent with an air of mystery it’s little wonder T-Rex’s famed frontman only required the odd killer chorus before the world became his oyster.
As one of the most revisited records in history it’s hard to imagine too many T-Rex die-hards wanting yet another version of Electric Warrior but this is a steal if Bolan is still unchartered territory. Wait until the first sign of summer then peel back the cellophane, slap the CD in the stereo, pour a cold beer and drift into an early 70s dream state. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Warrior’s Soul