KnuckleTracks #81

1) KILLSWITCH ENGAGE - 'When Darkness Falls' 3:52; from The End Of Heartache (Roadrunner)
The reigning kings of the metalcore movement are Killswitch Engage, the band receiving reverent props from most of the other bands nipping at their heels, pretty much everybody applauding their breakthrough, especially given the vicious, demanding heaviness of their sound. or

2) UNEARTH - 'The Great Dividers' 4:02; from The Oncoming Storm (Metal Blade)
The fourth Unearth album should vault this band into the pantheon of the white-hot metalcore acts currently transforming metal. A much-anticipated slot on Ozzfest's second stage won't hurt either, this versatile yet blistering and talented act reinvigorating the scene with some of the tightest, yet most ambitiously arranged extreme metal of the year. or

3) HEAVEN SHALL BURN - 'The Weapon They Fear' 4:38; from Antigone (Century Media/Abacus)
This German import is onto their third record of absolutely top flight melodic death, Heaven Shall Burn drawing the best from old In Flames and At The Gates while adopting intriguing elements from US metalcore. The collision is near apocalyptic, resulting in a powerful, emotional, virulent strain. or or

4) A PERFECT MURDER - 'Time Bomb' 2:53 from Unbroken (Victory Records)
Forming in Montreal, A Perfect Murder has reached deep into the archives of classic heavy metal and hardcore roots for inspiration. With their genuine understanding of bands such as Metallica, Testament, and Pantera, laced with the groove-laden southern influences of Crowbar and Down, A Perfect Murder make their point by extracting the bare essences of the genre: nothing fancy, just thick-sounding, heavy-hitting metallic hardcore. or

5) THE ACACIA STRAIN - 'Smoke Ya Later' 4:10; from 3750 (Prosthetic)
Massachusetts' The Acacia Strain have developed into one of the most powerful and memorable of noisecore outfits, combining canny songwriting with dramatic, dynamic playing and the catchiest of riffs. Produced and recorded by Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage for maximum impact.

6) ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY - 'Lunar Eclipse' 3:20; from Fulton Hill (Relapse)
Alabama Thunder Pussy have turned the stoner rock genre on its ear, stomping the term with substantive punk and redneck rock vigor. Fulton Hill is a carnal blast of grizzled grizzly metal that furthers the band's lonely, exemplary cause. or

7) THE HEAVILS - 'Outside The Circle' 2:32; from Heavilution (Metal Blade)
Unique, fully refreshing...heavilutionary, really. The Heavils have been praised in Rolling Stone and Guitar World for their confounding approach to slamming alternative hardcore metal, not to mention their twisted guitar-making abilities, these guys in possession of some of the weirdest axes you've ever seen. Spot the obscure Cheap Trick cover. or

8) EDGUY - 'King Of Fools' 4:22; from Hellfire Club (Nuclear Blast)
There are a plethora of reasons Europe's band with the strange name is one of the biggest power metal bands on the planet. All can be heard on this fiery, blasting slice of pure power professionalism. Personality, enthusiasm, scintillating production values... it's all here on the genre's new benchmark. or or

9) CEA SERIN - 'Scripted Suffering: Within And Without (edited version)' 7:13; from "...where memories combine..." (Heavencross)
An elegant, heroic, complex new breed of uncompromising progressive metal has been born with the intriguing strains of Cea Cerin. The band's huge, exquisitely recorded compositions betray a wealth of arrangement and a warmth of instrumentation. Evergrey and Nevermore come to mind, but this is so much more... Contact: J. Lamm, 147 Cockerham Rd., Denham Springs LA 70726 or,, or

10) KOTIPELTO - 'Reasons' 3:46; from Coldness (Century Media)
Ex-Stratovarius legend Timo Kotipelto is back with his second album of intriguingly traditional power metal, this time the vocal technician enlisting Symphony X's Michael Romeo to burn up the fretboard with him. Emotional, stirringly Euro-centric, all Timo all the time... this one is anything but cold. or

11) FLOATING WIDGET - 'Agartha' 4:48; from Praises To The Riff Monolith (Floating Widget)
Montreal's reigning stoner kings (winners of "Best Kept Secret Of The Year at '02's MIMI) wield a crushing Drop C tuning to make their classic Kyuss-like sound wallow. The band's debut finds the esteemed Pierre Remillard at the board, for a sound that is as pro as it is profound. Contact: 34 Kanata, Pointe-Claire QC H9R 5V3 or or

12) CATTLE DECAPITATION - 'Humanure' 3:05; from Humanure (Metal Blade)
New drummer, same sick artwork (banned in Germany), san Diego's Cattle Decapitation have created another quite grand and listenable raft of complex death tunes, crafted to a full-bodied brew at the capable hands of producing legend Bill Metoyer. or

13) EKTOMORF - 'I Know Them' 4:38; from Destroy (Nuclear Blast)
This Hungarian phenomenon is onto their fifth album, and the mix of progressive death, melodic death and enigmatic folk elements is extremely addictive. Add to that excellent Sepultura-like vocals, catchy structures and stellar production, and you've got metal moments of lasting value. or

14) MOONLYGHT - 'Fantasy' 4:54; from Progressive Darkness (NMS Music)
Moonlyght create an intriguing symphony of black, death, progressive and folk metal styles that has critics perplexed and impressed at once. The sound is almost Viking in nature, but Moonlyght offers so much more, covering vast territory with aplomb and daunting professionalism. or

15) IGNITOR - 'The Grey Ghost' 4:42; from Take To The Sky (Ignitor)
Ignitor are a headbanging traditional pure metal band (and by that I mean much tougher than power metal) with the distinction of having two gals in the act, one being the roaring lead vocalist. This EP spans six tracks and 30 minutes, and is a versatile, well-recorded, solidly performed romp through bullet-belted '80s styles. Fans of Grave Digger, Primal Fear and Brainstorm take note. Contact: 9206 Quail Cove, Austin TX 78758, 512-837-1828, or

16) SOULFLY - 'Execution Style' 2:18; from Prophecy (Roadrunner)
Max Cavalera continues to inspire metal makers the world over with his complex, spiritual, tribal, crushing pan-world metal. But Prophecy is commanding his best reviews yet, due to its large amount of slamming metal set up against his coolest trancy stuff yet, offered this time in limited does and an increase in sophistication., or


MERCILESS - 'Unbound' 6:02; from Unbound (Sound Pollution/Escapi)
A Swedish thrash classic has been reissued, Merciless' third and last album (No Fashion '94) becoming a cornerstone of a seminal era in the establishment of Swedish death metal as an often imitated force around the world. Witness the timeless craft and quality of these originals.