As we recline into the pining morose season of dying leaves and emerging goth bands with operatic, wine-drinking female singers, we lament the passing of the peak concert season with this wide range of metal nuggets primed to keep you on edge. Slayer's triumphant metal terminator God Hates Us All and Eric Peterson's nervy black metal project Dragonlord take the pole position and then all hell breaks loose as indies grapple with rock stars of all stature. Enjoy the cage match...
1) SLAYER - 'Darkness Of Christ' 1:28; from God Hates Us All (Universal)
2) SLAYER - 'Disciple' 3:35; from God Hates Us All (Universal)
It's pretty much unanimous: Slayer has devised the album of the metal year, pounding into dust all comers with their spiteful, spike-ful God Hates Us All Opus Magnum. Screeching, scorching old school black death awaits those who enter the realm. A natural to kick off this disc, and a natural to wreck your head as '01 self-destructs.
3) DRAGONLORD - 'Wolfhunt' 3:24; from Rapture (Spitfire)
The long-awaited black thrash death project from Testament's Eric Peterson has finally been spawned and it is a slashing scorcher. Dragonlord finds Peterson mastering the world of symphonic black metal and then adding to the masterwerk, gorgeous visual and literary accompaniment.
4) CONVERGE - 'The Broken Vow' 2:14; from Jane Doe (Equal Vision)
Epic, monstrous, visionary. These are terms that only begin to describe the wide-angled sound work Converge create. Fusing the worlds of hardcore, mathcore and metal with arcane melodies and mind-bending poetics, Converge have been on the leading cusp of loud art since they began back in '91. Come hear the band that is still out front of a demanding, intellectual genre. Contact: www.equalvision.com or www.meetjanedoe.com or www.mazurpr.com
5) SUPER JOINT RITUAL - 'Fuck Your Enemy' 1:40; from Super Joint Ritual (Baphomet/Housecore)
Here's a dangerous approximation of Down for all of those pining for some nasty rock 'n' roll from the metal south. Super Joint Ritual finds a very Pantera-esque Phil Anselmo roaring over a band that features members from Crowbar, Dead Horse, Eyehategod and COC. And it rips. Just like Down. Contact www.relapse.com
6) MESHUGGAH - 'Don't Speak' 3:28; from Rare Trax (Nuclear Blast)
Sweden's seminal math thrashers have offered up this delectable rarities pack to tide you over until their next opus. The rare Psykisk Testbild EP is on here, plus some newer material and video clips. And it roars a core in yer sore, Meshuggah being the undisputed kings of a pioneering but frosty metal future.
7) KREATOR - 'Second Awakening' 4:47; from Violent Revolution (Limb Music Products)
Sodom, Destruction, Kreator... virulent, classic German thrash is back. But none have cracked the meters like Kreator. Violent Revolution is a heady, head-crushing headbang that is cutting, aggressive, and ultimately sturdy of song. And the production is primed for the utmost of guitar sounds, allowing the electric metal to lash out and leave scars. Brilliant. www.spvusa.com
8) SAXON - 'Dragons Lair' 3:39; from Killing Ground (Limb Music Products)
I think we can call it official: Saxon (with perhaps Motorhead running neck and neck) are the most vibrant, creative and relevant NWOBHM band in operation today. A victorious Wacken gig with the Eagle Has Landed lighting rig was the perfect way to announce this regal, mature album for 2001. www.spvusa.com
9) WAYNE - 'The Choice' 3:44; from Metal Church (Nuclear Blast)
David Wayne comes back with an album that for all intents and purposes is the bracing traditional metal continuation from the original classic line-up of the band. Look for those slicing vocals over stadium rock riffs that take you back to the days of Accept, vintage Priest and the bubbling rise of Metallica.
10) INTO ETERNITY - 'Shallow' 6:14; from Dead Or Dreaming (Into Eternity)
Probably one of Canada's best hopes for a crossover metal act these days, Into Eternity strike again with massive Metallica vs. Iron Maiden vs. Death riffs crossed with underground progressive thrash and melodic vocals. The production is powerful, the playing spot-on, and the songs panoramic in scope. Contact: B-9 Glen Elm Tr. Crt., Regina SK S4N 0M6 or 306-751-1019 or www.intoeternity.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
11) WURDULAK - 'Chosen Below' 5:25; from Ceremony In Flames (Baphomet/Housecore)
Wurdulak features none other than Killjoy and Maniac on vocals with members of Immortal, Gorelord and Bloodthorn creating an old school black metal din somewhere between the rudimentary thrash of Bathory, Warfare and Destruction and the initial struggling sounds of the Norwegian scene in the mid-'90s. Contact www.relapse.com
12) SOILENT GREEN - 'A Grown Man' 2:15; from A Deleted Symphony For The Beaten Down (Relapse)
The former sludge kings of the weather-blasted south are back with an album that takes them further into a creamy technical death sound as state of the art as it is panoramic and awe-inspiring. There will be much talk of Soilent Green in the coming months as more strive to penetrate this intelligent yet thick and visceral album. Contact www.relapse.com
13) KRISIUN - 'Dawn Of Flagellation' 3:47; from Ageless Venomous (Century Media)
Brazil's shockingly dry but pioneering death behemoths return with an album that is already causing a flurry of discussion in the metal underground. Come see why this blasting power trio are the darlings of the U.S. death metal elite. 2001 marks the ten year anniversary for the band.
14) JAG PANZER - 'Frozen In Fear' 3:41; from Mechanized Warfare (Century Media)
Jag Panzer are of course known for that seminal US power metal document of the '80s, Ample Destruction, but the new stuff stands on its own, only Jag Panzer and perhaps Nevermore finding an embattled and gritty power metal sound that sends all those ballerina rockers runnin'.
15) WARMACHINE - 'Beginning Of The End' 5:35; from the forthcoming debut (Warmachine)
This Toronto band is upholding the flame for passionate, melodic traditional metal heavier than power metal, sort of in the Megadeth/Metallica zone. They are young, professional and blessed with great guitar licks, twin leads, groove and vocal melodies. This is the band's third demo. Contact 416-295-0353, email@example.com or www.warmachineonline.com
16) ANIMATE - 'Living With...' 4:40; from Casual Addiction (Animate)
Hamilton's legendary Joe Varga of Varga fame is back with a high relief enigma of an EP. Proggy with an industrial edge, Animate's vocalist/lyricist Alan Packham writhes on a bed of twisted metal. The result is a difficult, jagged and jilted EP of tunes that will surely confound. Closes with a cover of 'Highway Star'. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.alpachyderm.com
17) KARMA TO BURN - 'Thirty Four' 4:12; from Almost Heathen (Spitfire)
One of the most irreverent of rock phenomena, Karma To Burn have seen the wars and emerged with their defiant "no-vocals" credo intact. But who needs singing when you own this many explosive retro-futuro rock riffs and arrangements? These songs blast like stoner rock, like grunge, but they have to groove tall given the instrumental zone in which they dwell.
18) NEUROSIS - 'A Sun That Never Sets' 4:59; from A Sun That Never Sets (Relapse)
Neurosis continue to leave listeners in awe, conversely creating cathedrals and burnt-out shells of sound in which to contemplate time's methodical march. A Sun That Never Sets is the band's new ten track album and it is a celebration of burning skies, roiling oceans and the blood-red earth. Contact www.relapse.com