OK, it’s not really de rigeur to review free sampler CDs, but they are a good way of introducing you to new releases, new bands, etc. and as such I feel their role is vastly under-rated. Hence, the reason I’m going to devote the first part of this ‘ere little conglomeration of wordage to the latest ‘Razor’ sampler from the esteemed publishers of ‘Metal Hammer’ mag.
I must say that, as samplers go, by and large, this is the strongest one this or any other magazine has produced in quite some time. It obviously is dominated by the absolutely fucking epic Gojira opener, ‘Of Blood And Sand’, featuring the one and only Mr Devin Townsend, which is just the heaviest, most brutal and powerful song I have heard this year and worth the cover price alone (if I didn’t get it at the absurdly reduced subscribers’ rate). This is followed by fairly average offerings from In Flames and Alestorm, before Graveyard enter the same retro territory as the far more impressive Rival Sons (and, if lead single ‘Pressure And Time’ from the album of the same name is anything to go by, that’s going to one mutha of a must-have album). Pain offer up a fairly decent slab of industro-metal with a DC-style vibe, especially on the Jonno-inspired vocals, before Revoker again remind me what an asshole I was to miss them on their recent Rob Zombie support tour: everything I’ve heard by them is highly impressive, and these guys are gonna be BIG!
The other highlight of this particular sampler, after a ‘nothing special’ offering from Anaal Nathrakh and a decent slice of NWOBHM-tinged power rock from Attica Rage, is Talanas’ superb ‘Antiphon’, taken from their excellent ‘The Waspkeeper’ album, which well and truly cements their growing reputation as the progressive black metal successors to Akercocke’s crown. To digress, slightly, Talanas have produced one of the more impressive independent albums of the first half of the year, combining accomplished musicianship with intelligent vocals and some downright evil intentions: check them out.
So, apart from magazine samplers, what else has been beating the Monk’s eardrums into submission this month? Well, a triumvirate of new releases from Poland’s Agonia Records dropped through the letterbox the other, er, week… France’s Aosoth produce 43 minutes of black metal brutality on their aptly named third album, ‘III’, which leaves no grave unspoiled and no virgin unravaged; Italy’s Forbidden Tomb return after a four year break with a majestic slice of blackness that is more rock than metal (although the vocals more than make up for this), with good use of melody underpinned by dark as midnight undertones; England’s Spearhead deliver mid-league death with their third album, ‘Theomacia’, which reminds me a bit of Belphegor but with a much cleaner sound – maybe not surprising since seesions drums are by the Austrians’ former sticksman, Torturer.
Also tickling my fancy this past while has been Sixx:A.M’s ‘This Is Gonna Hurt’ – possibly the heaviest album Nikki Sixx has ever recorded, but also one with great hooks and great melodies and one which shows why he was the songwriting force behind Motley Crue: definitely not one for Crue fans but very contemporary, very relevant, especially on the powerful ‘Live Forever’ and the brilliant ‘Sure Feels Right’, which outstrips any ballad the Motleys ever recorded. At an entirely different level, an absolutely superb release is ‘Mary Celeste’, the sophomore album from Plymouth’s finest, Huron. Very obviously influenced by Pantera – in the best possible sense – the band hit between the eyes with opener ‘Branded’ and just keep on going. Album highlights include the anthemic ‘Disperse Or We Fire’, complete with an RATM-style chant, and the Slipknot-ish ‘Serpentwine’. This is an accomplished album from a young and ambitious band and one which proves, once again, that the future of British metal is in fairly safe hands.
That just about finishes off this month’s round-up : just a quick heads up for Hollywood Undead’s brilliant rap-metal crossover offering ‘American Tragedy’, and the industrial excellence of ‘Ever Since We Were Children’, the debut offering from The Black Dots Of Death’, Shawn ‘Clown’ Colvin’s side project – but, I think you’ll be hearing from those at one or more of our Paradise City club nights, starting this coming Friday (10 June): head on over to www.facebook.com/paradisecitybelfast for more info.

Authors: Monk

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