Nothing like a little forged in fire Iced Earth to get things shaking on our last batch of knuckle nuggets before we sail off into the sunburned summer. As well, the indies are continuing their strong show, as has been the case on the last few KnuckleTracks, making these suckers kinda like Mr. Slagel?s legendary ol? Metal Massacre albums. Who knows? Maybe one of these acts will break big, and exposure right here had a hand in it?
1) SIX FEET UNDER ? ?Impulse To Disembowel 3:10; from True Carnage (Metal Blade)
Six Feet Under are no less than death metal?s biggest hope to infect the mainstream media. It is a rite of passage achieved by cutting the fat and offering only the chipped and scraped bones of song. But True Carnage is a return to the gut-wrenching no holds barred vocal scrape of true death. Prepare for intense extremity.
2) ICED EARTH ? ?Jack? 4:14; from Horror Show (Century Media)
Iced Earth are one of the more beloved traditional metal acts out there, amassing worldwide sales of a million units, and Horror Show can only increase their exposure. The album examines Jon Schaffer?s love for the movie monsters of the past, delivering the concept with his usual biting, abrasive yet ruthlessly detailed metal acumen. A brilliant show of both perfection and personality.
3) DEICIDE - ?In Torment In Hell? 4:00 from In Torment In Hell (Roadrunner)
Glen Benton and his satanic horde are back at their devilish duties spreading the word of the underworld with this slice of blasphemy from In Torment In Hell. Damned for life with a secure spot beside Lucifer, Deicide?s bring fires of hell to life.
4) DARKEST HOUR ? ?An Epitaph? 3:44; from So Sedated, So Secure (Victory)
The highly regarded hardcore label Victory has waded into metal, and what a band to kick up the sparks. Darkest Hour are a Washington, DC act that sound like classic Arch Enemy shot through Soilwork and fellow countrymen Shadows Fall. But it?s slightly dirtier and more organic, as if a cursory nod to DC?s rich hardcore history is in order. Brilliant Swedish-style thrash. Contact www.victoryrecords.com
5) WIZARD ? ?Calm Of The Storm? 5:03; from Head Of The Deceiver (Limb Music Products)
Produced by the esteemed Uwe Lulis, Head Of The Deceiver takes power metal beyond the frilly norm into a fast, grinding return to metal?s true power roots. Vocals are mid-reg, the drums sound like cannons, and the grooves are undeniable. And, no surprise, the production is the utmost in hi-fidelity weighted with lead boots. The album Priest should have made.
6) OMEGA A.D. ? ?Meatgrinder? 3:40; from $lave (Omega A.D.)
Traditional metal with a big guitar and drum sound, Omega A.D. write in that space between Metallica and Megadeth but with a cool underground vibe and stronger vocals than either slightly more well-known act. There?s also a doom vibe, due to the massive explosions emanating from the drums, as well as the thoughtful guitar tones. Contact: www.omegaAD.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
7) WARRIOR ? ?Day Of Reckoning? 4:03; from The Code Of Life (Nuclear Blast)
One of America?s legendary, well-regarded power metal forbearers is back with their strongest yet, pounded to life by thick, rhythmic production values (Warren Croyle and Joe Floyd), and elevated by the esteemed vocal work of ex-Impelliterri technician Rob Rock. Plus the riffs are some of the weightiest ever dared applied to metal this traditional. Classy, deafening, expertly crafted.
8) AVANTASIA ? ?Reach Out For The Light? 6:32; from The Metal Opera (Century Media)
The Metal Opera is one of the most ambitious rock projects ever mounted. It is the brainchild of Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammets who enlisted the absolute royal family of power metal vocalists and players to fulfill his vision, including talent from Stratovarius, Blind Guardian, Warrior, Gamma Ray, Virgin Steele, Helloween, Rhapsody and Gamma Ray. Raise the curtain and let the show commence.
9) STRATOVARIUS ? ?Will My Soul Ever Rest In Peace? 4:54; from Intermission (Nuclear Blast)
Taking a well-deserved break until the next record, slated for 2003, Finland?s Stratovarius craft a sumptuous thank-you to the fans with an album full of rarities, covers, live tracks and four new songs, this one of which is a daring, passionate power ballad that builds to a deafening soar. The kings of Euro-precision will return triumphant again.
10) MINUS ? ?Chimera? 2:24; from Jesus Christ Bobby (Victory)
These slashing thrashing artcore terrorists from Iceland strive to make "disgusting music" and they have succeeded. The sound is post-mathcore, shocked with distortion and some of the most innovative, progressive tones this side of Will Haven and Drowningman. Creativity meets electro-juiced hyperactivity. Contact www.victoryrecords.com
11) MAUDLIN OF THE WELL ? ?They Aren?t All Beautifull? 5:35; from Bath (Dark Symphonies)
A fiercely creative collective of nine musicians who explore many esoteric facets of the extreme, Maudlin Of The Well may be the next step beyond the Opeth?s and Katatonia?s of this world forging well into an art zone that is beyond metal or even the wider world of rock ?n? roll. Bath continues the band?s multi-instrumental, multi-vocal ethic that has put this band at the top of the metal avant garde. Contact www.darksymphonies.com or www.maudlinofthewell.com or email@example.com
12) PRO-PAIN ? ?Foul Taste Of Freedom? 3:40; from Road Rage (Spitfire)
History will undoubtedly deem Pro-Pain, along with Biohazard and Helmet, one of the pioneers of hardcore metal. Road Rage drives that point home with explosive vigor, Pro-Pain captured live and crushing on this awesome 17 track album that scopes the band?s historic career from their roots in NYC to their present home in Florida. Come see how the guys who fought the wars get the job done.
13) ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS ? ?Confusion? 4:20; from Turmoil (Spitfire)
New Jersey?s favourite metal rappers are back with a heavier, bassier, more organic and more extreme album, which mixes tracks from the debut with new compositions. The band?s strength lies within Siege and Don?s encyclopedic purist rap knowledge. Beneath their poetics, AKP is an army of a band that pound the metal home.
14) JESUS CHRYSLER ? ?Airbourne? 4:15; from Ride (Sixpack)
Metal forged in a spirit of punk, grunge, beer, doom and bong rock, Jesus Chrysler remind us why we all rock in the first place. In love with the bash, the volume and the unpredictability of electric currents, Jesus Chrysler sound like Kiss crossed with the Butthole Surfers and Melvins, flamethrown, unpredictable and undeniably live. Contact 612-798-5671 or www.jesuschrysler.freeservers.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
15) GRUDGE ? ?Pissed Sick? 3:30; from Forgiveness (House Of Hits/BMG)
Montana just might be the next heaving home of a new juiced Pantera-heavy grunge movement if that state?s Grudge have their way. A big media buzz is on for this band, and it might because they are in possession of the heaviest guitar sound anyone?s heard in years. Alcohol-fueled mayhem of astonishing, grinding heft. Contact www.grudge2000.com
16) HELLSPAWN - ?The Whores Of Adramalech? 4:49; from Lords of Eternity (Rotten Records)
Tipping their hats to the old school of Black Metal, Hellspawn features Damaged drummer Matt on vocals. This Aussie outfit will no doubt take the underworld by storm with their blistering hellfire.
17) WehrwÙlv "Burn Em Away" 2:40 from Obedience Is The Answer (Indie)
Rising out of the ashes of Toronto based Night Of The Ghouls, WehrwÙlv continue on with their Motorhead-meets-Bongzilla-in-a-dark-back-alley-under-a-full-moon-like sound. Light up the bong, lock up your women and be afraid. Be very afraid of these death-rock pugilists.