1) MORBID ANGEL - 'Opening Of The Gates'5:15; from Gateways To Annihilation (Earache)
No one can or dare question Morbid Angel's supremacy at the top of the competitive death metal heap. Despite the ongoing popularity of Cannibal Corpse and the bubbling challenge of Nile, it is these Florida legends that continue to provoke both lyrically and musically into realms previously thought un-navigable. It is here, and rave reviews are already flowing.
2) NOTHINGFACE - 'Make Your Own Bones'3:48; from Violence (TVT)
Washington D.C.'s Nothingface have been making intelligent, slamming riff-crammed hardcore metal for three great records now. Matt Holt has grown as a vocalist to include a variety of current metal guises, perfect for the multiple dynamics of the guitar work and chops-crazy rhythms behind him. Touring forever through '00 and '01, this is the record that will break the band.
3) PRO-PAIN - 'Substance'2:50; from Round 6 (Spitfire)
Six albums of defiant NYC hardcore now for Gary Meskil and his slamming crew, Meskil now based in Florida but still able to crank the flamethrower anthems seemingly at will. Round 6 is more of a return to the faster, simpler, more combative format of the band's earlier classics. Come see why this band continues to thrive while others fall.
4) DREAMS OF DAMNATION - 'Unholy Invocations'4:26; from Let The Violence Begin (Necropolis)
Dark Angel is the traditional thrash domain of Dark Angel's Jim Durkin, 6' 8" Brazilian vocalist Charlie Silva and pro metal drummer Al 'Mayhem' Mendez. The sound is unmistakable forged in the spirit of Dark Angel, but with a carnal, low, rhythmic, death edge. This six track EP is a fierce prediction of things to come.
5) DARK TRANQUILLITY - 'My Faeryland Forgotten'4:40; from Skydancer + Of Chaos & Eternal Night (Century Media)
Now known as one of the most visceral and exciting of Swedish melodic death acts, Dark Tranquillity are prime for a re-examination of their earlier, much sought-after albums. Century Media has obliged with this twinned release, revealing a faster, edgier, yet still pioneering bunch of young artists.
6) DAMAGED - 'Conman'3:14; from Purified In Pain (Rotten)
Australian death legends Damaged have been around since 1983, and now their shocking, compressed intensity is daring to trample a larger audience through fast-expanding Rotten Records from California. Brutal, expressive, expertly executed, Purified In Pain is a maelstrom of extreme death, Krisiun and Angel Corpse coming to mind.
Contact: POB 2157, Montclair CA 91763, 909-624-2332, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.rottenrecords.com
7) HADES - 'On To Iliad'3:11; from Live On Location (Crook' d)
Quickly rising in prominence as one of America's most intelligent power metal pioneers, Hades have reformed for their best records yet. Live On Location celebrates that fact by reaching back for a hot 'n' sweaty 1991 live set, while also containing a few bonus rarities to sweeten the pot. Hear Tecchio's vocal magic where it shines best: on stage. Contact POB 25, Jamestown NC 27282, 336-454-0040, crook-drecords.com or http://www.hadesusa.com/
8) EMPYRIA - 'Silent Rage (The Darkness Still Remains) Pt. III'5:00; from The Legacy (Nightmare)
Third record for this power prog trio from Vancouver finds the band further exploring the possibilities of prog metal, offering for the first time all four newly recorded parts of 'The Lighter Side Of Darkness' as one dramatic 25 minute opus. This special edit of KnuckleTracks is sure to become a collector's item. Contact: 7751 Greenwood Dr., St. Paul MN 55112 or 612-784-9654 or email@example.com or www.nightmare-records.com
9) VOIVOD - 'In League With Satan'5:07; from Voivod Lives (Metal Blade)
In an exalted world of their own, Voivod continue to toil in parallel space, infusing their intelligent next-world concepts into a metal world thirsty for brains. Voivod Lives captures the other side of the band: their fierce and fluid, live prowess. Comprising tracks from a long and eventful career, Voivod Lives is a choice gem. Keep the dream alive. Note: this is a Venom cover!
10) SUPERSHINE - 'Kingdom Come'3:43; from Supershine (Metal Blade)
Elegant, pounding, soulful: Supershine is all of these, and it is also the synergistic collaboration between Trouble's chief writer Bruce Franklin and Doug Pinnick from King's X. Added bonus: the drummers from each hallowed act split the percussive duties. The result, as Doug puts it: _rouble with my vocals."
11) ELEGY - 'Icehouse'5:12; from (Noise)
At the apex of the next wave of progressive power metal is undoubtedly Elegy, Ian Parry and company creating an elegant amalgam of traditional arrangements and ideas that look to a new future for metal. Speed, power and above all, a new catchiness mark this seventh release for the flying Dutchmen of Eurometal. Hotly anticipated and well worth the wait.
12) SPINESHANK - 'Synthetic'3:08; from The Height of Callousness (Roadrunner)
One of the hot and rapidly rising bands on the futuro-metal scene, Spineshank return with a stronger, heavier album produced by GGGarth Richardson, metal legend, recently of Kittie and Rage Against The Machine fame. Combining slamming riffs, expert vocal melodies and a new take on industrial, Spineshank are destined for the fame game.
13) STRAIGHT FACED - 'Happy'3:37; from Pulling Teeth (Epitaph)
Second record for these Huntington Beach, California metalcore warriors, Straight Faced finding huge traditional metal riffs to which their hardcore vision becomes steadfastly fused. With some of the strongest songs in the business, look for these guys to leapfrog into the nu-metal fray and kill all posers.
14) MAZE OF TORMENT - 'Death Strikes'2:25; from Death Strikes (Necropolis)
First as Harmony and then Torment in '94, Sweden' s Maze Of Torment have been plying a virulent thrash/black trade which explodes into heart attack force on their newest, Death Strikes. Gives bands like The Crown a definite run for their money. Fast and brutal, like Destruction on crack. See http://www.necropolisrecords.com for more info.
15) EYEHATEGOD - 'Self Medication Blues'4:45; from Confederacy Of Ruined Lives (Century Media)
New Orleans' most grating musical infection is finally back with new product, designed to rile, re-style and defile the world of extreme music through a slow unraveling of extreme trends. They are the pros, sludging forth with provocation, tearing at your safe circle . . . yes, finally, Eyehategod are back.
16) DOWNSET - 'Together'4:20; from Check Your People (Epitaph)
L.A.'s Downset are way overdue for a smash record, having forged perhaps two of the best rap metal records of all time in their previous two outings, especially the classic Do We Speak A Dead Language? Back with more fire, funk, metal, and verbal attack than ever, look for Downset to provoke, destroy and rebuild. Produced by Roy Z.
17) AMEN - 'Refuse Amen'2:45; from We Have Come For Your Parents (Virgin/I Am)
No question Amen are one of the few bands out there buzzing as big as Slipknot, indeed as heavy and harrowing as the clown crew. Now with their second Ross Robinson-produced record, Amen look to break big with their seething punked-up nu-metal mania. And what' s scarier, the songs are there to put this deep into the minds of any mosher.