Back to a heavy heady mix of signed and unsigned metal for this one. It seems power metal is taking over the world, and that is reflected in the bands and labels stepping up to the plate to hand you headbangers their calling cards. But those out of that zone will find a good variety of freaky metal styles here to salve those winter wounds. Spring has sprung!
1) BALANCE OF POWER - Day Breaker 4:19; from Ten More Tales... (Nightmare)
Three records deep, and London, Englands Balance Of Power are prepared to make their North American push. And with a record like Ten More Tales..., the band has easily proven themselves to be theU.K.s premiere power metal act, the bands heartful hooksand razor-sharp twin riffery supporting the skyclad vocal prowess of Lance King. Contact 7751 Greenwood Drive, St. Paul MN 55112 or www.nightmare-records.com or NIGHTDISCS@aol.com
2) JAG PANZER - King At A Price 3:49; from Thane To The Throne (Century Media)
Colorado's Jag Panzer are of course old masters at the metalgame. And through a series of critically acclaimed reunion albums, the band is back on top purging power metal of posers. Thane To The Throne is an ambitious, determined, gritty and metalized look at Shakespeares Macbeth.
3) DOMINE - Thunderstorm 4:27; from Dragonlord (Tales Of The Noble Steel) (Metal Blade/Attic)
Record number 2, after the cult release Champion Eternal finds Italys power metal sensation Domine becoming even more epic, cinematic and panoramic, addressing the world of power metal with a storytelling passion that places them alongside countrymates Rhapsody as the tradition bearers to take Italy to prominence within the genre.
4) SOLACE - Man Dog (edit) 5:55; from Further (MeteorCity)
Less stoner rock than a thundercloud hail of doom, Solace are the new kings of thicker than tar retro metal. featuring ex-members of Godspeed, this follow-up to the Jersey Devils EP is a fat wallow of perfection doomery sure to steamroller all wimp comers. Contact: POB 40322, Albuquerque, NN 87196 or email@example.com or www.meteorcity.com
5) SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN - Back Door Woman 5:57 from Exotic Dancer Blues (Leviathan)
Shred legend David Chastain has courted all sorts of metal styles in his prolific career, and now he brings us Southern Gentlemen a tasty home-cooked blues metal power trio that leans hard into AC/DC and ZZ Top as well as more reverential blues. Strafing axes, grinding blues, very electric metal, stamped with the Chastain seal of quality. Contact: P.O. Box 745, Tyrone GA 30290 or 770-463-1009 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.leviathanrecords.com
6) SHEAVY - Gemini (The Twins) 3:55; from Celestial Hi-Fi (Rise Above/The Music Cartel)
Canada's pride of stoner rock joy Sheavy have increasingly climbed the ladder of thick burger rock dominance, creating classy 70s grooves that court psychedelia and Sabbath riffery, their secret weapon being a vocalist that sounds like a demented Ozzy circa 1970. Come hear why they are one of Europes favourite bands from this genre. Contact: 28-30 Wood Wharf Horseferry Place Greenwich London SE10 9BT ENGLAND or www.sHEAVY.com or www.RiseAboveRecords.com
7) HEXUS - Dark Enough Without Me 4:21; from Strive (Hexus)
Adrenalin-pumped hardcore metal is the order of the day for this heady and heavy Ontario upstart. Crushing riffs, gangland vocals and rhythm grooves that leave the pit black and blue should make their five track EP a signing possibility indeed. Contact: (905) 878-7098 or fax (905)878-7165, 916 Birch Ave., Milton, ON L9T 3Z2, www.hexus.org or email@example.com
8) THE CHAPTER - Grey Old Day 3:41; from The Chapter (Stark)
L.A. band The Chapter are bucking all trends of their homebase, reviving classic 70s power metal, indeed, including a grinding cover of Rainbows Tarot Woman on their debut 4-track EP. Snag The Chapter and peer back into a time of rock royalty, where hooks and melody fought bloody battles with classic stone-carved riffs and elegant true metal vocals. Contact; POB 1631 Montebello, CA 90640 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
9) VADER - Xeper 4:01; from Litany (Metal Blade/Attic)
Polands legendary death machine move up the ladder to Metal Blade for this panoramic crossover cruncher sure to boost this prolific band deep into the conciousness of deathsters the world over. As usual, the lyrics are a cut and slash above, Vader taking us to forbidden texts and forbidden thoughts with alarming aptitude.
10) THE QUIET ROOM - Face Your Judgment 4:28; from Reconceive (Metal Blade/Attic)
America continues to lead with bracing new offshoots of progressive metal, The Quiet Room turning in a second record that is a thorny, percussive, rhythmic and infinitely textured collection of post-metal compositions. And given their show-stealing status at Baltimores Powermad festival, the band can also pull it off live. Scary.
11) MENTAL HOME - Stained 4:33; from Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas (Century Media)
Mental Home are a captivating five record metal act from Russia. Defying description, the band have been gaining prominence through the critical community with their fresh forays into black metal, prog, goth, death and traditional metal styles. Masterpieces abound, the band joining the ranks of Opeth, Katatonia, Shadows Fall and Sculptured at the future fringes of metal possibility.
12) MATTSSON - Dont Chain My Mind 5:11; from Another Dimension (Lion Music)
The new project from guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson features singer Bjorn Lodin and guests Patrick Rondat, Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9), Erik Norlander and Par Lindh. Veteran-quality progressive metal at its finest. Contact: www.lionmusic.com or our Canadian distributor Unicorn Records at www.unicornrecords.com
13) VENOM - 'Resurrection' 3:03; from Resurrection (Steamhammer/SPV)
Yes indeed the originators of both thrash and black metal have reunited for their most thoughtful and deliberate album yet. Let's see if they can hold it together and bring that legendary live extravagonzo to North America. For now, bow to the masters and rock with the kings of evil metal mayhem.
14) MORTIFICATION - Hammer Of God 3:43; from 10 Years Live Not Dead (Metal Blade/Attic)
Mortification have been provoking thought for years with their visceral and violent reaction to death metal, their polar opposite life choice. Musically, this live track is shocking proof of how caustically capable the band is in pulling off their crossover grind, no strings attached.
15) IMPALED - Faeces Of Death 4:08; from The Dead Shall Dead Remain (Deathvomit)
Bay Area thrash never had it so horrific, Impaled building on the scene far past previous parameters, offering up carnal Carcass-splatter death with forward thrusts into grind and black. Blasphemous, bloody, but not without grim humour, Impaled are shocking their way into metals consciousness with a slash, quartering and vivisection. Contact: POB 14815, Freemont CA 94539-4815 or deathvomit.com or Jparispr@aol.com