1) BLACK LABEL SOCIETY - 'Bleed For Me' 5:29; from 1919 Eternal (Spitfire)
Zakk is back with what is another primal sledge of heavy MF metal, carved and drafted only the way Zakk and his thugs can. 1919 Eternal also features a few songs rejected as too heavy for Ozzy, which is no surprise, given that Zakk's Eternal attack is filled with doom clouds that are too dark for the middle of the mainstream.
2) ALL THAT REMAINS - 'One Belief' 4:28; from Behind Silence & Solitude (Prosthetic)
Destined to be the next big thing past God Forbid and Shadows Fall in the world of forged U.S. progressive metalcore, All That Remains in fact features Shadows Fall's original singer, Phil Labonte. The result? A sound that is as intelligent as it is subtly melodic and crushingly extreme. Contact www.prostheticrecords.com or email@example.com for more info.
3) ANGEL DUST - 'The Human Bondage' 4:10; from Of Human Bondage (Century Media)
One of power metal's most esteemed acts, Angel Dust have always distinguished themselves from (and away from) the happy metal pretenders due to their rough and tough edge, their Dio-esque vocals, their hints of thrash and speed amidst arrangements that are breathtaking and ambitious. www.centurymedia.com
4) BLIND GUARDIAN - 'Battlefield' 5:37; from A Night At The Opera (Century Media)
Exhilarating, life-affirming, meticulously and loving assembled, a Blind Guardian record is always a cause for celebration. And A Night At The Opera fulfills all the excitement and accolades that have swirled for years around this high craft franchise. Come hear the fantasy and magic of rock's premiere symphonic metal band. www.centurymedia.com
5) ARK - 'Waking Hour' 4:15; from Burn The Sun (Favored Nations)
Through the innovative and esteemed Favored Nations label (the brainchild of Steve Vai), North America finally sees release of this highly regarded supergroup project. Featuring Jorne Lande, Tore Ostby, John Macaluso, Randy Coven and Mats Olausson (all regulars in the pages of BW&BK), Ark is a thrilling classic rock ride, spiritual, heavy, gleaming, intelligent. See www.favorednations.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
6) VANDEN PLAS - 'Cold Wind' 5:13; from Beyond Daylight (InsideOut Music America)
Germany's reigning progressive metal champions Vanden Plas return with a staggering new post-power record full of expected VP traits such as stellar production, deep, chunky riffs and sterling performances all around. Come see why these guys are the unanimous usurpers of the Dream Theater throne.
7) CANNIBAL CORPSE - 'Pit Of Zombies' 3:59; from Gore Obsessed (Metal Blade/Universal)
Returning with more anger, blood, guts and speedfreak determination, Cannibal Corpse throttle the throttle and give you death metal pure and simple. Purists will applaud the sheer volume and uncompromising lyrical attack of this distressingly heavy record. www.metalblade.com
8) I4NI - 'Vow Of Vengeance 4:59; from It's All Fun And Games... (Crook'd)
An invigorating set of two lost Bay Area demo sessions from members of Exodus, Angel Witch, Laaz Rocket and Overkill, I4NI is a harsh, almost bleak fusion between thrash, doom and death metal, made headbangingly groovy with a dash of old school. Come hear these mid-'90s rarities and be sonically crushed. Contact www.crook-drecords.com or 336-454-0040 for more info.
9) DECEMBER - 'Host' 3:15; from The Lament Configuration (Earache)
A fresh U.S. signing for Earache (but seven year veterans), December are soon to become leaders among the new breed of highly creative extreme terrorists combining progressive death with mathcore. Lamb Of God, God Forbid, Dillinger Escape Plan, Burnt By The Sun... December arguably vanquish all comers through two ace plays: production and riffs. Contact www.earache.com or email@example.com for more info.
10) HEADSTRONG - 'Inside Joke' 3:14; from Headstrong (RCA/BMG)
Canadian upstarts Headstrong have forged a churning, cogent alloy between the worlds of confrontational rap and nu-metal, creating a sublime sound that possesses the flamethrowing magic of Rage Against The Machine with way more low and earthy power chords than Rage would ever dare. Headstrong is in stores now. Contact www.headstrong.com for more info.
11) NAKED MOLE-RATS - 'War Zone' 3:43; from the forthcoming Fortune Cookie Monster (nakedmole-rats.com)
Veterans of the New Jersey metal scene, the three members of Naked Mole-Rats came together in '00 to create their provocative, unexpected mix of metal styles, recalling everything from stoner rock to Cirith Ungol, ace in the hole being the Halford-like low timbre of vocalist Danny Eng, and a general creativity level that makes all seven songs on their demo, totally different from each other. Contact nakedmole-rats.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
12) THROTTLE O.H. - 'Three Inch Space' 3:57; from 2002 Demo (Unsigned)
Throttle O.H. combine brutal riffs, ferocious vocal workouts and a groove-laden rhythm section to create heavy metal for the 21st Century, unleashing an aural assault that leaves listeners banging their heads and shaking their hips. Contact DCA Entertainment, 268 Bush Street, #3237, San Francisco CA 94104 or ph/fax: 510-763-2848 or email@example.com
13) PUNGENT STENCH - 'Loot Shoot Electrocute' 2:15; from Masters Of Moral - Servants Of Sin (Nuclear Blast)
The long-awaited new grind masterpiece from the infamous Pungent Stench has arrived and the profane and insane ones have not disappointed. With tracks such as 'Mortuary Love Affair' and 'Diary Of A Nurse', you know this is going to be one of the much discussed underground experiences of the year. www.nuclearblastusa.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
14) LOCK UP - 'The Jesus Virus' 1:33; from Hate Breeds Suffering (Nuclear Blast)
Pintado, Lindberg, Embury and Barker do death right with this superstar collection of caustic speedballs. Slicing, acerbic, uncompromising and intelligent, Lock Up's second album is for those who want substance with their shock. www.lockup666.com or www.nuclearblast.de/media for more info.
15) PAIN OF SALVATION - 'Waking Every God' 5:19; from Remedy Lane (InsideOut Music America)
With an evolving and visceral shift from prog metal into pure progressive rock, Pain Of Salvation have created the masterpiece of a career blessed with critically-acclaimed classics. Remedy Lane uses a variety of fresh but often quiet arrangements to make points that are intelligent and fully thought-provoking.
16) EDENBRIDGE - 'Color My Sky' 4:33; from Arcana (Sensory)
Positive comparisons to Nightwish bode well for this highly ornate and well-crafted power metal opus, Edenbridge flying on the wings of vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher, who lends these songs a gothic importance missing in most operatic/symphonic metal bands. Contact PO Box 388, Voorhees NJ 08043-0388 or www.lasercd.com or email@example.com or www.edenbridge.org for more info.
17) PISSING RAZORS - 'Burning Bridges' 3:20; from Where We Come From (Spitfire)
Pissing Razors have methodically gone about their business becoming one of the actualizations of the pure metal legacy Machine Head abandoned after the first album. Quite simply, they are alone with Pantera creating crushing no compromise metal that is forward thinking and hard as steel at once.
18) GRAVE DIGGER - 'The Grave Digger' 5:05; from The Grave Digger (Nuclear Blast)
No one can churn out the true power of traditional power metal like Chris Boltendahl and his gathering of mausoleum-raiding metalists. The Grave Digger is named like the definitive album it is, the band rocking carnal like the early glory days. www.nuclearblastusa.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.