Summer beckons, and what better way to bleed into the hot weather than a new rounder of raucous metal? Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, as always is here to point the way to metal's wide spectrum future, so listen up and while yer at 'er, throw a steak on the barbecue for us...
1) MAYHEM - 'A Time To Die' 1:46; from Grand Declaration Of War (Necropolis)
Likely the black metal masterpiece of 2000, Grand Declaration Of War finds Mayhem completely inverting their earlier sound for a bast of futuristic technicality that is to be marveled at for years. Long-awaited and far beyond expectations.
2) DEICIDE - 'Standing In The Flames' 3:33; from Insinerarehymn (Roadrunner/Attic)
Hotly anticipated in the six corners of Hell, Deicide's next drops with a sickly thud before blastbeating its way through the poseurs below. Slowly and methodically becoming, along with Morbid Angel, the most respected and legendary institution in death.
3) BORKNAGAR - 'Colossus' 4:27; from Quintessence (Century Media)
Borknagar have proven themselves proud purveyors of a leading edge black metal blast still anchored in tradition. Quintessence finds these Nordic explorers savaging their sound while still punctuating the fray with their patented, well-executed clean vocals. Layers of intelligence, daggers to the temples.
4) PEACEMAKER - 'Malana Dabba Highway' 4:24; from Beyond The Tenth (Echo Relations)
Rising from the ashes of Toronto stoner rock kings Kuthe, Peacemaker take the genre into the next hazy generation equaling the focused, riff-mad song skills of Solace, Transport League and Atomic Bitchwax. Detailed, always interesting and crammed with sounds, Peacemaker is definitely the work of veterans with a love of phat '70s power rock. Much-anticipated.
5) FATES WARNING - 'One' 4:24; from Disconnected (Metal Blade/Attic)
Forever pushing the boundaries of progressive metal, Fates Warning have managed to escape the rules and cliches of a monster they, Queensryche and Rush alone created. Immerse yourself in this album and realize why this band's individual members are becoming icons in their own right.
6) ALICE COOPER - 'Blow Me A Kiss' 3:19; from Brutal Planet (Spitfire)
The grand master of all rock 'n' roll moralists has returned with a fierce, modern, but hard and heavy semi-concept slammer about a future we all must work to avoid. Power chord sandwiches a plenty, Brutal Planet is Alice's pounder rounder for 2000, sure to raise a few eyebrows amongst the man's far and wide fanbase.
7) KING DIAMOND - 'The Trees Have Eyes' 4:46; from House Of God (Metal Blade/Attic)
Black metal + power metal = black power? Maybe not, but you know what I'm talking about, the King of all evil American Danes has returned with another frontline release of scintillating sensuous traditional metal sure to have all those European power poofters scratching their heads in awe.
8) IVORY TOWER - 'Beyond The Stars' 7:26; from Beyond The Stars (Limb Music Products)
Germany's hottest new prog metal property Ivory Tower follow their self-titled '98 debut with a new collection of regal but somber melodies, whipped to perfection, twin axes afire, keyboards weaving tapestries, the vocals of Andre Fischer cutting through memorably and powerfully. Contact: email@example.com or www.limb-music.de
9) IRON FIRE - 'Rise Of The Rainbow' 4:17; from Thunderstorm (Noise)
Danish power metal upstarts Iron Fire were hands-down winners of a Noise contest voted on by fans to come up with the label's next signing. The result is a grinding, traditional affair sparked with electric production, heaps of bottom end and all the fantasy power metal imprints you can Fall with a Hammer. Witness the evolution of the metal revolution.
10) LANA LANE - 'Asherah' 6:51; from Secrets Of Astrology (Limb Music Products)
Step up to the next level of symphonic progressive rock with the sweeping, soaring vocals of American Lana Lane, who together with Erik Norlander and such notables as bassist Tony Franklin, has produced a lush, accessible and atmospheric power metal far beyond the creative realms of those stuck in the '80s. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.limb-music.de
11) APOLLYON SUN - 'Dweller (Subhuman Remix)' 5:15; from Sub (Mayan)
Through years with the highly influential Celtic Frost, Tom G. Warrior has proven his ability to widen metal's often constricting barriers. Now back with Apollyon Sun, the man has built a dark, stomping record that marries his intelligent lyrical concerns with a juiced form of industrial. Come take the trip of a true and evolving artist.
12) STUCK MOJO - 'Raise The Deadman' 3:51; from Declaration Of A Headhunter (Century Media)
Far beyond any conception of rap metal into a rarified hard rock dominance, Stuck Mojo are political, ragingly riff-mad, grooved beyond reproach and blessed with searing twin leads that recall the best of Thin Lizzy. And all of this within a highly rhythmic hardcore context. Pure genius.
13) LUDDITE CLONE - 'Bottom King' 2:21; from The Arsonist And The Architect (Relapse)
Heart-bursting extreme grind riddled with crushing breakdowns, this new New Jersey act have absorbed the craft of the masters and pushed into progressive death metal realms that are all about surprise, ambush, and consummation. Steel on steel, screech upon screech.
14) INTO ETERNITY - 'Silence Through Virtue' 4:43; from the forthcoming second album. Saskatchewan's Into Eternity are quickly gaining a reputation as one of the hottest unsigned bands in Canada, currently negotiating release of their second album which promises to offer more of the band's cerebral, visceral crunch-rocking compositions which combine ornate goth, Swedish death and doom to expert result. Contact: B-9 Glen Elm Tr. Crt., Regina SK S4N 0M6 or 306-789-7250 or intoeternity@sk. sympatico.ca
15) DOCTOR BUTCHER - 'Freaks' 4:48; from The Demos!!! (Crook'd)
Of course it takes the burning core of Savatage to make demos as vicious and bloodthirsty and professional as many bands' actual albums. Witness the classic beginnings of the legendary Doctor Butcher side project from Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery. Watch yer head, this comes out swingin'. Contact POB 25, Jamestown NC 27282 or crook-drecords.com
16) BLACK LABEL SOCIETY - 'Counterfeit God' 4:18; from Stronger Than Death (Spitfire)
There aren't any rock starts left in the world, that is, besides our man Zakk, he of the long blonde mane and the longer list of guitar accomplishments, Mr Wylde pounding through a surprisingly bludgeoned batch of metal doomsters on this second album from his notorious main band. Bottoms up, you poseurs!
17) NASUM - 'Shadows' 2:24; from Human 2.0 (Relapse)
Swedes playing a game best played by Americans, Nasum are an uncompromising power trio triple threat who shock forth with high concept grindcore packed into this record's 25 attacking tracks. Injecting musicality often found in Swedish death, Nasum further elevate their game with crisp production values.