KnuckleTracks #24

Nothing hotter this summer than the following new vanguard of extreme metal forces. So sidle up to your favourite heat-scorched activity and slap on this howling bit of metallic madness. Make sure to get out and support live metal in your town as well, as this concert season looks to be more action-packed than any in the last ten years.

1) HALFORD - 'Resurrection' 3:17; from Resurrection (Metal-Is)

Metal's consummate vocalist is back doing what he does best, classic, classy power metal with bite, groove and a sense of history. Reviews have been rightfully effusive so far. The Painkiller is indeed back in black leather. Catch him on tour with Maiden if you dare!

2) KING DIAMOND - 'The Pact' 4:08; from House Of God (Metal Blade)

In much the same way 9 re-energized Mercyful Fate's career with a creepy dose of doom, so does House Of God offer foreboding tones that chill the spine and provoke the mind. And it is perhaps the King's most impactful concept yet, set to music that is immediate, riff-crazy and as always, highly polished. Enter the House Of God.

3) DEVIN TOWNSEND - 'Namaste' 3:42; from Physicist (HevyDevy Records)

Electrocuted pop-sheen thrasher Devin Townsend returns with a triumphant roar, bundling all of his Strapping Young Lad, Ocean Machine and Infinity sounds into one aerodynamic package and then some, Physicist, offering a blast of shocking sonic clarity insidiously layered for house of mirror miles. As always, a purifying experience. Contact: POB 153, Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada 2X 7G1 or (604) 460-1663 or or

4) DEAMON - 'End Of Ages' 3:23; from End Of Ages (Misplaced Music)

Slammin' like a freight train is the angular death majesty of Ottawa's Deamon, who prove themselves several levels above most American acts through a combination of caustic production and rock-solid song skills. Swirl in a knack for unexpected, progressive arrangements and you have a new Canadian deathcore movement with the likes of Solus, Jaww and Deamon leading the way. Contact: Box 1995, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0 or 613-257-5361 or or

5) ROTTEN SOUND - 'Strong Man' 2:03; from Still Psycho (Necropolis)

When Entombed is too weak, you move to Dismember. When Dismember doesn't reek of enough old school death, now you've got the Helsinki-spawned Still Psycho EP from Rotten Sound, a sonic blast of fast nastiness that roars to the fore and is over before your head snaps off. Extra treat: features a cover of Carcass' 'Reek Of Putrefaction'.

6) BERZERKER - 'Reality' 1:18; from Berzerker (Earache)

Much talk about this Berzerker thing, Earache's new bold attack machine bridging the likes of noisecore, grind, crust, death and extreme Japanese/Anglo industrial with song constructions that contain as many elusive but salvageable metal hooks as they do horror samples. Come witness the future of extreme technology at its carnivorous best.

7) PAIN - 'End Of The Line' 4:03; from Rebirth (Stockholm/Universal)

It's no secret that Hypocrisy's Peter Tagtgren has become one of the premiere metal producers of our day. And one can hear the vast sum of his knowledge on the second album from his pet project Pain, a hooky, industrial flourish of techno touches that retains the man's caustic edge while stomping us with contemporary beats.

8) MARTYR - 'Fortune Teller' 4:22; from Warp Zone (Warfare Records)

Following their triumphant 10/10 rating for '97 Hopeless Hopes, courtesy of the tough-to-please Aaron Small, Martyr have hatched another complex death terrain on which to dance their jazzy, Meshuggah-like chops. Warp Zone proves without a doubt that these volume wizards belong on a major. Organized, ambitious, and wielding flashy progressive death that slays all but the top Swedes, Martyr are the next coming of extreme progressive. Contact: POB 832, Cap-de-la-Madeleine, PQ, Canada G8T 8Y7 or or

9) GAMMA RAY - 'Heaven Can Wait' 4:29; from Blast From The Past (Noise)

Six studio albums and ten years later, Gamma Ray breathe the rarified air of power metal supremacy. So here's a gorgeously packaged 2-CD best of with a twist: the old classics, including this track, are re-recorded with the new line-up! Plus there's a ton of pictures, awesome Derek Riggs artwork and two hours of sterling crisp metal mayhem. Congrats are in order.

10) EIDOLON - 'Nightmare World' 4:41; from Nightmare World (Metal Blade)

Eidolon, through three rock-solid records, have proven themselves to be a somewhat mysterious power metal act from an engaging old school, sounding like old Savatage crossed with Doctor Butcher. But Glen Drover, as King Diamond's coveted guitarist, has learned crystal clear production lessons, and his stature in that department is now assured.

11) GALACTIC COWBOYS - 'T.I.M.' 3:31; from Let It Go (Metal Blade)

Rumour has it this will be the last for this highly respected Houston act, and what a way to go, Galactic mixing their punchy pop thrash with absurdist statements of perplexity and complexity. The harmonies are there as usual, as are the chops and casual context in which they are used. Unarguable songwriting genius. They will be sadly missed, if indeed this is it.

12) FIREHOUSE - 'Don't Treat Me Bad' 5:22; from Bring 'Em Out _ive_(Spitfire)

One of the biggest selling '80s melodic rock bands returns with a triumphant Japanese live album which demonstrates the astonishing number of hits these favorite southern sons have had over the years. Keep your eye out for a new, rockier studio album later this year.

13) SIXTY WATT SHAMAN - 'Fear Death By Water' 4:36; from Seed Of Decades (Spitfire)

Rock and roll done the old way. That's what Baltimore's Sixty Watt Shaman provide in crushing doses, mixing Zeppelin with grinding blues with Clutch, all rolled into a ball of traditional wonder that makes for one of the most interesting retro-feel albums of the last five years.

14) DARKNESS ETERNAL - 'Unrepenting Malice' 5:23; from Dawn Of The Suffering (Dark Salvation Productions)

Some call these Alberta phreaks doomy death metal but the band prefers _nholy dark metal_ which is an accurate enough tag for the band's dreamy, sludgy, uncompromising extreme atmospheres. Most definitely thick as a brick, Darkness Eternal but Edmonton on the death map with a subjugated roar. Contact: POB 5002, Stn. Main, Spruce Grove, AB T7X 3A2 or

15) ORIGIN - 'Disease Called Man' 2:50; from Origin (Relapse)

Where do these beings come from? Well, it's irrelevant because Origin have taken technical deathgrind beyond what was available as late as last week, swirling an orchestrated cacophony of post-metal riffery that is sure to re-write the history books. Chops beyond all crucible-fired madness, Origin are indeed the next link to the portals of beyond.

16) THE SINS OF THY BELOVED - 'Nebula Queen' 6:58; from Perpetual Desolation (Napalm)

Creaking, crackling front-edge gothic death with haunting female vocals and even scarier violin refrains is what to expect from the frightening and highly anticipated latest from this progressive death forerunner. Taking grueling doomery into the next century, The Sins Of Thy Beloved are perhaps the most well-regarded act in this difficult, theatrical field. Contact: POB 382, Bremerton WA 98337 or or

17) DARK TRANQUILLITY - 'The Wonders At Your Feet' 3:00; from Haven (Century Media)

Dark Tranquillity have proven themselves to be the exciting leading edge of this whole vibrant progressive death scene, a gathering of forces who are thinking well outside the parameters of metal into a world of lush, intellectual possibility. Melodic, majestic and fraught with forward-thinking metal proposals, Dark Tranquillity are considered bright young prodigies of the Swedish vanguard.

18) THE GATHERING - 'Shot To Pieces' 4:10; from if_then_else (Century Media)

One of the most well-regarded and closely followed bands of the dreamy gothic scene, indeed one of its prime pioneers, returns with an album that puts the rocking, full-band metal back into the mix, after a lush, electronic-based album and one of the most talked about live albums of last year, Superheat. Vocalist extraordinaire Anneke van Giersbergen is still the band's prime weapon, but there is much more fresh volume behind her this time out.