KnuckleTracks #44

1) NILE - Sarcophagus 5:09; from In Their Darkened Shrines (Relapse)
The new kings of death metal have infiltrated mainstream press while bowing to no gods but those of the extreme. And speaking of extreme, this is without a shred of doubt, the most anticipated release of the year, hence Nile's status on our hallowed mag's front cover. Come witness pyramid power in traction.

2) DARK TRANQUILLITY - 'Monochromatic Stains' 3:37; from Damage Done (Century Media)
Unarguably a masterpiece, Dark Tranquillity's hotly anticipated Damage Done is a return to the metal toolings of the band's early work while blazing away through the carcasses of great songs, stirring post-power melodies and arrangements with engaging stops, starts, twists and turns. A definite competitor for record of the year around here.

3) FIREWIND - 'Between Heaven And Hell' 4:49; from Between Heaven And Hell (Leviathan)
Fueled by 21 year old Greek shred king Gus G., Firewind also contains members of Kenziner, making this a potent, glass-shattering collection of players. The sound is traditional power metal but with a passion unheard since early Virgin Steele. Major composition, artful melody and a guitar tone that destroys.

4) EIDOLON - 'Coma Nation' 4:21; from Coma Nation (Skyscraper Music)
With new life from soaring vocal technician Pat Mulock, Eidolon have turned in a crushing collection of traditional metal masterpieces. The sound is steely, surgical and professionally daunting, making Eidolon without a doubt, Canada's power ambassadors for the next decade. or or

5) SHADOWS FALL - 'Stepping Outside The Circle' 5:25; from The Art Of Balance (Century Media)
No question Shadows Fall are one of a select few hallowed hopes for the world of metal and hard rock. Indeed, these Northeast hardcore genre-destroyers are at the vanguard of what might be the next big metal phase. Come hear their fearless genius at work. or

6) CEPHALIC CARNAGE - 'Cannabism' 4:10; from Lucid Interval (Relapse)
One of the shimmering pantheon of extreme grindcore acts, Cephalic Carnage sold over 11,000 copies of their last album Exploiting Dysfunction. Now the surreal mood swings of Lucid Interval are upon us and the bands virtuosic majesty is on display for all to hear.

7) VEHEMENCE - 'Made For Her Jesus' 5:58; from God Was Created (Metal Blade)
Striking a highly original alloy between progressive death, black metal and pure traditional death metal, Vehemence have the metal community abuzz with a sound that is fresh while pulverizing, intelligent yet carnal. In the fine spirit of Nile, Vehemence have pushed the genre inexorably forward.

8) PLANET X - '70 VIR' 4:00; from MoonBabies (InsideOut Music America)
Searingly played and recorded by three of the most dangerous instrumentalists in hard rock, MoonBabies is the masterwerk of ex-Dream Theater (and now Yngwie) keysman Derek Sherinian, Aussie drum god Virgil Donati and guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine. Fear is now struck in the hearts of those who would dare compete. Contact or

9) RPWL. - 'Trying To Kiss The Sun' 3:45; from Trying To Kiss The Sun (InsideOut Music America)
RPWL. are an expansive, plush and resplendent German progressive rock band who should appeal to those into genesis, Marillion but especially Pink Floyd. The sound is stellar and the textures rich and infinite, something that is maintained live by the band's celebrated quadraphonic system. or or

10) L.A. GUNS - 'OK, Let's Roll' 3:54; from Waking The Dead (Spitfire)
Get set for a heavy riffing all-metal sort of L.A. Guns this time around, the band coming back dark and dastardly, creating an album that in their own words is "more like Iron Maiden and early Scorpions." Fact is, this record kicks ass with lots of guitars, trickier arrangements, more music stuffed into each little homewrecker. or

11) SUGARCOMA - '(You Drive Me) Crazy' 2:25; from Becoming Something Else (Music For Nations/Koch)
Move over Scratching Post and Kittie, because there's a new deafening concept from girls (and one guy!) who rock, tracks like this one and the heavier and faster 'Windings' and 'Queenie' blasting the place with direct, straight ahead, high octane power chords nowhere near the down-tuned angst of nu-metal.

12) TERROR 2000 - 'Back With Attack' 4:07; from Faster Disaster (Nuclear Blast)
Here's record two for Soilwork's Speed Strid and his merry band of fastback disaster thrashers. The whole idea with this band is to have fun, drink beer and race 'til the death, and that white knuckle vibe pulses through these well-fashioned, note-dense speed metal anthems. Catch the bug and pound a few with the boys in the band.

13) UNLEASHED - 'Hell's Unleashed' 2:14; from Hell's Unleashed (Century Media)
Legends of the extreme Unleashed are back to kick Swedish death metal in the ass all the way back to where it belongs: banging out the old school blast of a straight forward mosh session. Heavy, loud and likely to drink you under the table, Unleashed are the bulked up real thing, the saviors of the bottom end, the returning conquerors! or

14) THUNDERSTONE - 'Me, My Enemy' 3:41; from Thunderstone (Nuclear Blast)
Finland's Thunderstone provide a buoyant white flash of power metal, adding to their nation's melodic legacy, perhaps ascendant to the throne temporarily abdicated by Stratovarius. The sound is uplifting, peppered with interesting keyboard tones, distinct vocals and expert axe textures. Meticulous, inspiring, very European. or

15) SITTIN' IDOL - 'Conformist Wine' 4:16; from Sittin' Idol (
Live, boomy, guttural and appointed like classic Metallica with lethal touches of doom and progressive metal, Calgary's Sittin' Idol also know their raw chaos metal, evoking thoughts of classic COC. Highly rhythmic and explosive. Next up: Alberta's Own Hard Rock Weekend (late Aug.; Contact: Northland Village, POB 67177, Calgary AB T2L 2L2 or 403-701-0502, 403-277-7109 or or

16) NOCTURNAL RITES - 'Shadowland' 4:32; from Shadowland (Century Media)
Nocturnal Rites are known in the underground as respectable pillars of integrity when it comes to the authentic power metal. Indeed, their sound has been honed over many years of plying this trade before it was hip, and their experience bleeds through with might, confidence and faultless songs.

17) SERENIA (Napalm) - 'Sister Nightfall' 5:37; from At Sixes And Sevens (Napalm)
The much anticipated new band from Tristania's Morten Veland is upon us and the sound is a thrilling and intellectual continuation of that band's highly acclaimed virtuosic goth sound. Female vocals, death growls, excellent violin work... it's all here at state of the art levels.