Album Review: Argus – “From Fields of Fire”

argus - from fields of fire

Birthed in an attempt to drop the shackles of musical tradition, it’s interesting some 40 odd years later to coin the term “trad metal” when speaking about a particular sub genre that really feel of a place and time more than a decade after Sabbath dropped their massive blast of a debut.  But if we’re going to stick with what the populace now calls traditional metal; give me heavy bass, cascades of harmonized guitars and solos that slay great beasts.  Give me majesty and darkness in equal measure, give me a voice with the grit and power to convey it all with a solemnity that inspires awe as much as it does raised fists and head bangs.

In other words, give me Argus and their new LP, From Fields of Fire.   Continue reading

Second Circle: Mountains Crave and Device

Second Circle

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.

Here’s the way it usually works.  Our illustrious editor gets in dozens and dozens of promos each week that he puts up on a Google doc for the writers, who converge like a pack of wild dogs,  starving and scrabbling to get a cut of the juiciest meat.  That’s how it usually works, but every so often you just come across something else, whether it’s an obscure band you found in you Bandcamp collection one day because of a label subscription with an AMAZING cover or a surprise drop from a band saying goodbye.  In this edition of Second Circle we’re stepping away from the promo box to alert you, however briefly, to the wonders of Mountains Crave and Device.  So let’s find those comfortable pants you wear when no one’s watching and dig in… Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Power Metal That Eased Me Into Liking Power Metal (Again)

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I find it fascinating that power metal still doesn’t get the fair shake it deserves from the metal community.  The same folks who mock and ridicule bands for dressing up like superheroes in their videos or writing about dragons or Lord of the Rings are the same folks who worship bands who revel in dressing up and running around in the forest in wizard hats or, come to think of it, also write about the Lord of the Rings (or at least derive their name from it). Yet, despite these similar touch points in silliness power metal still has a stigma attached to it, one I admit to having for a time as I became engrossed in the more extreme aspects of metal.

What’s the point, besides my linking to that awesomely ridiculous Immortal video?  It’s that there’s plenty to love in power metal, and the claims of cheese and pomp are no more valid than they are in any other genre in the scene.  For this edition of Nine Circles ov… I wanted to take a look at a few of the bands and albums that brought me back into the fold – many of them introduced to me by former 9C scribe and power metal champion Frank.  So think of these as gateway bands: we’re not going full-on Gloryhammer yet (although Gloryhammer is awesome); the emphasis is on heaviness, aggression and, ultimately, power ¹.   Continue reading

Album Review: Grand Magus – “Sword Songs”

Grand Magus - Sword Songs - ArtworkAs their career has worn on, Stockholm-based Grand Magus have morphed from a relatively standard old-school doom metal outfit steeped in the aesthetics and lyrical themes of Norse mythology into a leaner, meaner beast that combines aspects of NWOBHM, traditional heavy metal, and some slivers of speed metal. Their core sound, however, has remained intact, always reliant upon the rhythmic power and memorability of their guitar work, battle-bred lyrics, and the compelling delivery of the vocals. Their latest, Sword Songs, changes little of what they’ve established on the past few albums; it’s a fun, accessible set of war hymns, but it reaches back into some of the band’s earlier doom roots to make it even more infectious.  Continue reading

Sepulchral Saturday: Old Wolf – “Old Wolf”

Old Wolf - Old Wolf

Time to add another member to the flag carriers of the NWOTHM movement with Old Wolf‘s self-titled EP. In case you’ve been under a rock, that’s New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal and the movement as a whole has been nothing short of glorious. Such is the case with this Kentucky band and their high voltage take on all that is great about classic trad metal filtered through today’s sound. With this band it’s all about more bang for the buck and transferring a good time feeling to the listener. And sometimes — particularly on a Saturday — good time feelings are what its all about. Continue reading