Five Finger Death Punch lead the charge with their eagerly awaited return to the fray.
And we check out a raft of Napalm releases as Fueled By Fire (pictured), Deadlock and Powerwolf bring the metal.
There’s a lesson in modern progressive rock courtesy of Maschine and new music from label mate and Dream Theater alumni James Labrie.
Plus we review and rate the latest offerings from Sadgiqacea, Pete Flesh Dethtrip and Armed For Apocalypse.
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: Progressive Rock
It almost defies logic that a band in its infancy can conceive and deliver an album as intense, assured, atmospheric and instantly addictive as Rubidium. However, it’s obvious that Maschine – standard bearers for the new breed of British progressive rock – is no ordinary quintet.
This dazzling debut is a near-perfect example of boundary-expanding progressive rock in all of its gargantuan glory and there’s never a dull moment. The decision to fuse Luke Machin’s haunting male vocal with keyboardist Georgia Lewis’s melodic tones is inspired: their note-perfect partnership underpins a record boasting so many rich layers of classy creativity.
Rubidium reaches its inspirational peak on Cubixstro with Lewis allowed to take centre stage and the introduction of Massive Attack-fashioned beats towards the finale of this near nine minute epic proving bold experimentation is de rigueur for a band revelling in its freedom. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Time Maschine
BEST OF THE REST
You could imagine a band called Armed For Apocalypse living in a remote hide-out, stocked with AK-47s, chemical warfare suits and tins of value spaghetti hoops. And if Armageddon is around the corner, this four piece would certainly provide a decent soundtrack.
‘Sludgecore’ would be a decent, if lazy, way of describing California boys’ pulverising, piledriving style, and it’s not a world away from Louisiana titans Crowbar. However, there’s enough spark in AFA’s songwriting to ensure The Road Will End is no NOLA-by-numbers rip-off, as brutal little ditties like snarling opener The Starting Line Is A Trip Wire and the outstanding Built To Kill attest.
Throw in some dangerously detuned riffs, D-beat thrash-outs and thick, meaty grooves, and you have a truly crushing opus which will make many extreme metal heavyweights dive for cover.
Whether we’re finished off by zombies, nukes or little green men, you’ll want Armed For Apocalypse on your iPod when the time comes… Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Heavy Weapon
Genre: Death metal
Ex-Maze of Torment and Deceiver man Pete Flesh might be going it (largely) alone on this project, but he’s obviously one talented chap. For Mortui Vivos Docent is a thoroughly nasty slice of death metal which sounds like it was spawned in an occultist’s lair, before being let out to unleash hell on mankind
The Swede’s hate-filled racket veers from slow burning creep-outs like The Suicide End to fast paced acid spitters such as Fallen Bliss and Crave The Fire, and there’s a sinister, black metal feel present in much of the album’s incendiary riffery.
A lot more varied than we’ve come to expect from most modern DM, and as such a lot more interesting, Mortui Vivos Docent is a trip worth taking. Don’t forget to pack your inverted cross though…RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Flesh-Ripping
Genre: Sludge/post metal
Philadelphia duo Sadgiqacea don’t exactly boast a moniker that rolls off the tongue – and there’s nothing easy about their ominous, bleak music either.
False Prism, the band’s debut full length, is an oppressive opus which owes a big debt to post-metal titans Neurosis, and there are hints of Georgia psyche sludgers Kylesa in there too.
What’s missing are the hairs-on-the-back of your neck, sky cracking moments that the best purveyors of this sound can bring to the table – and you’ll certainly need to be patient with these four tracks before they can truly sink in.
But filtered through a warm, organic production, courtesy of Woe’s Chris Grigg, the likes of False Cross are not without their charms, and a subtle US black metal influence gives extra weight to True Darkness especially.
Not essential listening for the beard stroking hordes, then, but an effort that hints at better things to come. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 True Promise
Genre: Power Metal
The occasional growly vocal aside, Powerwolf don’t sound dissimilar to Dragonforce as they surge through Preachers Of The Night on a mission to pack more riffs into one record than any band before them.
If you like your metal rousing and rapid then this is an entertaining quasi-religious romp through the ages with nods to Manowar, Judas Priest et al.
But it’s when Powerwolf channel their inner Ghost and Rammstein on the creepy Coleus Sanctus that things start to get serious. A titanic track to test the most adept of frontmen it screams impending doom and axe-fuelled destruction.
Nochnoi Dozor is another devilish multi-lingual anthem and when Powerwolf put their minds to it they’re a pretty terrifying metal force. Successfully separate the irony from the sincerity and Preachers Of The Night is a mightily impressive body of work. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Cry Wolf
Genre: Thrash Metal
A fast emerging thrash metal tour de force, Fueled By Fire continue to blast the opposition into the stratosphere.
Trapped In Perdition follows hot on the heels of 2012’s European release of the RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Plunging Into Darkness and proves that the crack Californians really are on a rich creative roll.
It’s little over a decade since the band got together but they already sound like seasoned pros with frontman Rick Rangel ripping through radio single and opener Catastrophe like his life depends upon it. And maybe it does.
The pace set, this sensational album goes from strength to strength – often stifling in its ferocity and atmospheric rhythm.
There are the obvious nods to the Bay Area classics but Trapped In Perdition is never allowed to stray into copycat territory. A true contender. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Blaze Of Glory
It takes some pretty big cojones for a metal band to attempt a cover of Bronski Beat’s 80s hit, Small Town Boy. Deadlock though, pull it off with aplomb, turning it into goth metal classic…though quite what Jimmy Somerville would make of it remains to be seen.
As for the rest of The Arsonist, the phrase “for fans of Lacuna Coil” certainly springs to mind – which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The harsh versus clean vocal style is employed by plenty of bands, but Deadlock make it work better than most; the combination of John Gahlert’s DM roar and Sabine Scherer’s heavenly singing is at time majestic, with Dead City Sleepers and We Come Underdone particular highlights.
Performing over a bedrock of melodic DM, metalcore and melancholica, the duo are Deadlock’s trump card. And although there’s nothing groundbreaking on the Germans’ sixth effort, it’s a well-crafted, superbly executed work of beautiful darkness. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Hot Property
Genre: Progressive Metal
Three years after Static Impulse served to cement Labrie’s reputation as one of metal’s most versatile performers, the Dream Theater frontman ups the ante again on the equally powerful yet sonically superior Impermanent Resonance.
Like its critically acclaimed predecessor, this strident record benefits from the punchy one-two of Labrie’s trademark tones juxtaposed alongside drummer Peter Wildoer’s perfectly positioned screams and growls. It’s a combination that fuels IP from start to finish.
Throw in Matt Guillory’s keys – particularly striking on the standout Slight Of Hand – and it’s clear Labrie has reflected on everything that worked so well on Static Impulse, filtered the winning formula and produced a set even more compelling. Power ballad Back On The Ground is just beautiful.
The Todd La Torre-fronted Queensryche might have made the best progressive metal record of 2013 but IP is hot on its heels. Labrie has never sounded better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Imperious Resonance
Genre: Heavy Metal
Make it beyond one of the most convoluted and lengthy album titles in metal history and Five Finger Death Punch have something special in store. This is their Use Your Illusion One – with the second part set to follow later this year – and it’s just as overblown, over-produced, over-hyped and over-in-the-blink-of-an-eye as Axl’s career-defining work more than two decades ago.
For GnR’s trademark sleaze rock substitute pure, ass-kicking metal but TWSOHATRSOH:Part One has much in common with a record that redefined a genre more than two decades ago. Like Use Your Illusion One, this album is built on strong choruses, riveting riffs, thought-provoking lyrics and a cockiness lacking in so many of today’s major releases.
Wrong Side Of Heaven might just be a little too Nickelback for the Death Punch massive but it’s got the potential to introduce Zoltan Bathory and co. to the unsuspecting mainstream. And in many ways the mainstream still aren’t ready for the fist-pumping aggression of Burn MF – TWSOHATRSOH:Part One is a tentative step towards arena-dom rather than an all-out play for commercial acclaim.
But that’s the only time it’s in any way tentative. On the whole this is a record relentless in its energising fury and the album that will propel Bathory, Ivan Moody and their mates back into the thick of the big leagues. It’s where they belong. And where they will stay. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Knuckling Down To Business