KnuckleTracks #47

1) KATAKLYSM - 'In Shadows & Dust' 2:24; from Shadows & Dust (Nuclear Blast)
Quebec death visionaries Kataklysm have created a masterpiece of hi-fidelity brutality that weaves the band's complex influences into a seamless whole that documents with pride and admiration, the history of extreme music. Despite a huge, impressive catalogue, many are calling this the apex.

2) WOODS OF YPRES - 'Crossing The 45th Parallel' 6:46; from Against The Seasons (Woods Of Ypres)
Possibly Canada's most magnificent and dramatic pure black metal band, Woods Of Ypres (pronounced "E-pray") creates cathedrals of mournful melodies, balancing old school Norwegian blackness with stunning technicality and a vocal style that is surprisingly long since forgotten in the scene. Frightening in its authenticity and emotional distress. Contact: Dave Gold 359 Ouellette Ave., Windsor ON N9A 4J1 or or

3) THE FALLEN – ‘Blessings’ 4:08; from Front Toward Enemy (Metal Blade)
Orange County deathsters The Fallen have been grinding away at society’s sores for a decade now. The sound is technical but raw, groovy and doomy but still pure of death, alcoholic, chaotic but grounded in beats that pound. It is an intoxicating extreme brew that is accessible beyond what should be. or

4) HAMMERFALL - 'Hearts Of Fire' 3:51; from Crimson Thunder (Nuclear Blast)
Locating the perfect balance between guitar-burned production, solid songs and metal might, the reigning kings of pure metal return with another record destined to push total catalogue sales past one million units. We are one... let's celebrate the ability of classic metal's ambassador to the masses. or

5) RED TERRIER - 'I'll Never Love Another' 3:01; from Leader Of The Pack (Rebel Knight)
Making the rounds of '80s metal styles, Red Terrier use an edgy drum sound, fuzzy, electro-shocked guitar and vocals oddly reminiscent of Bret Michaels or Vince Neil to attack quite heavy riffs and grinding rhythms. The range is impressive and the synthesis of genres rare. Contact: POB 1225, Jamestown TN 38556 or or

6) NAPALM DEATH -'Force To Fear' 3:36; from Order Of The Leech (Spitfire)
Barney and crew have been creating the most aggressive yet socially conscious extreme metal for over 15 years, and the grooves and the riffs improve in sophistication every year. Having said that however, this is one fast, technical record, one sure to thrill the old school fans and new alike.

7) CHRISTIAN DEATH - 'Paradox' 3:57; from Lover Of Sin (Candlelight/PHD)
Beginning life in the early '80s as goth metal terrorists, Christian Death have become highly unique purveyors of disturbing black metal indeed. Lover Of Sin is technical, fast and rife with metal riffs that can only be conceived from legends on the periphery of the genre. A shocking blast of apocalyptic anger and a welcome return.

8) LACUNA COIL - 'Unspoken' 3:35; from Comalies (Century Media)
Milan's Lacuna Coil have been ambitiously laying claim to the female-throated metal throne through a mix of intelligent, creative, fresh arrangements and with Comalies, a steely eye to the metal bottom line. Vocals are dual, textures are profuse, ideas are wildly inventive, and Waldemar Sorychta's production bright and hard. A victory to be sure. or

9) DIVINITY - 'Intuition' 3:52; from Intensify (Divinity)
Playing expert, memorable thrash with an accessible Metallica-like strength of song, Calgary's Divinity are leading the rise of the west, started in Vancouver and heading into a productive Alberta scene. This band is signable now. Contact: #1414 224 17th Ave. SE, Calgary AB Canada T2A 7X8 or or or 403-234-8640.

10) CATHEDRAL - 'Nocturnal Fist' 3:18; from Seventh Coming (Spitfire)
Lee Dorrian's metal-crunching doom machine Cathedral is back with a record infused with steaming grooves and a bottom end that pounds the red earth with the force of a flank of tanks. Seventh Coming is having a big impact in the critical community and fans are going to freak. Welcome them back as the kings of retro metal.

11) YAKUZA - 'Yama' 3:39; from Way Of The Dead (Century Media)
Chicago's Yakuza, with Way Of The Dead, have taken, in one fell swoop, experimental hardcore way past any of the angled, emo-ed, jazz-filled critical darlings breaking this year and next. What's more, the effect is intoxicatingly musical, the melodies replenishing, the playing, frightfully futuristic. or

12) STRANGE WAYS - 'Superstar' 5:39; from the Strange Ways demo (Strange Ways)
Ass-kickin' Black Label-style metal is the order of the day with Strange Ways, who pound an old school headbang not without a sense of humour and not without cool beer-swilling grooves. Their ten track demo shows intriguing versatility so play it loud and play it all before you head out for another bottle of Jack. Contact: Jeffrey Tippins 76 Wyoming Ave., Portsmouth VA 23701 or or Dave Griffin: 757-285-7052

13) SKULLPL8 - 'Hannibal' 4:18; from Standing In Blood (Infinite Records)
Rocking dark and aggressive with an electrifying mix of old school thrash, doom, death and prog-minded traditional, Skullpl8 create choking grooves that sound like slow Testament crossed with Trouble. Lyrically, this is a lusty deathfest, further confounding categorization, while the riffs are insanely innovative and oddly accessible. Contact: or or or 3228 NW 27th. St., Oklahoma City OK 73107

14) TWILIGHT ODYSSEY - 'The Endless Days Of A Stranger' 4:30; from the forthcoming debut (Twilight Odyssey)
Pure of heart, old school prog metal in a Maiden mode with female vocals is something you don't hear too often, but Twilight Odyssey is just that, adding tight rhythm lines and memorable melodies to their airy, accessible, yet gothic sound. Contact: 359A 14th Street, Brooklyn NY 11215 or or or

15) MONSTERWORKS - 'Ascension' 3:12; from Rogue (Monsterworks)
A mesmerizing labyrinth of grind, prog, thrash, traditional and extreme tendencies wholly unexpected, Monsterworks have more innovative, fresh ideas than ten bands of this ilk put together. Add to that the unique vocal stylings of Jon Higgs, and you have fierce new dimensionality of death. Contact: Jonathan Higgs, Top Flat, 115 Gloucester Place, London W1U 6JS, UK or or

16) REIGN OF TERROR - 'No Limits' 5:24; from Conquer And Divide (Leviathan)
Gritty, shred-heavy power metal is the order of the day when Joe Stump lights 'em up. Conquer And Divide is the white-hot follow up to Sacred Ground, and features the ripping vocal prowess of Mike Vescera. Prepare for a clinic in balancing flurries of guitar histrionics with songs that go for the jugular. Contact POB 745, Tyrone GA 30290 or or

17) FLATBLAK - 'She' 4:32; from A Dragon's Tale (Flatblak)
With everything from death to classic metal to punkabilly, Flatblak create a perplexing blend of lo-fi stoner madness dedicated to the devil with a wink and a smile. Hilarious samples pervade the kaleidoscope ride creating a journey into shaggy ragged night you will not soon forget. Contact: 219, 5404 10th Ave. SE, Calgary AB T2A 5G4 or or

18) THE BLOOD DIVINE - 'Leaving Me Helpless' 3:04; from Rise Pantheon Dreams (Peaceville)
And what better way to close our sermon than with a disbanded and legendary supergroup, The Blood Divine, comprised of Cradle Of Filth and Anathema members, offering a compilation with rarities, highlighting their uneasy metal and drear alloy. Much will be said about this band as the years progress.