KnuckleTracks #89

1) FALCONER - 'Purgatory Time' 4:42; from Grime Vs. Grandeur (Metal Blade)
Falconer have joined Brainstorm as smash the marquee acts of the wily second string of power metal's golden age. Grime Vs. Grandeur is a masterwerk of quick riffs, proggy flourishes, soaring vocals and insanely addictive melody. The skill inherent is incredible, the pacing and sequencings mesmerizing, the result, one of the most purely enjoyable power metal albums of the new century thus far. or

2) CANDLEMASS - 'Seven Silver Keys' 4:57; from Candlemass (Nuclear Blast)
The roaring warhorses of all doom are back with a huge record that that puts them back on the map alongside Trouble, The Obsessed and Witchfinder General as one crucial pillar to the four poster deathbed depicted on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Messiah is massive of voice and the riffs are mournful and damn near immobile. or

3) SENTENCED - 'May Today Become The Day' 4:00; from The Funeral Album (Century Media)
Finland's Sentenced have decided to embrace what they know best - dying! Bowing out with their heads held high, Sentenced have fortunately brought us, on a cold slab, one last magnificent doom-filled record, The Funeral Album laden with a rock 'n' roll chemistry that will be sadly missed. or

4) PRO-PAIN - 'Neocon' 3:25; from Prophets Of Doom (Candlelight USA)
Hardcore metal legends Pro-Pain have returned with another set of forceful socio-political anthems that could only be the fierce and intelligent work of veterans this bloodied but unbowed. Prophets Of Doom is an inspiringly riffy and even complex record from Meskil's skilled posse - the NWOUSHM owes a debt to Pro-Pain. or

5) STILL REMAINS - 'The Worst Is Yet To Come' 3:50; from Of Love And Lunacy (Roadrunner)
Still Remains have created a shockingly brave and melodic sort of melodic death that spits in the face of metalcore conventions through bold and powerful grooves and the use of keyboard washes rarely dared in this field. Fat, explosive production from Gggarth completes the coup, making Still Remains a blast of fresh air in a metal world gone 'core. or

6) SUPERVILLAIN - 'Drowning' 5:38; from Earthquake Machine (Supervillain)
Expect a fresh approach to traditional metal when Supervillain strike. As well, expect bright, explosive productions and a palpable live sound that puts you right in the action. The versatility and pacing of this thing is astonishing for an indie - pick it up now before they get signed. Contact: 14-44 155 St., Whitestone NY 11357, or

7) NILE - 'Lashed To The Slave Stick' 4:20; from Annihilation Of The Wicked (Relapse)
Legendary US death kings Nile have managed their career to heady heights, finding themselves revered as death metal's answer to Slayer, the band that operates outside and mysteriously above death circles, as it were. Annihilation Of The Wicked is a brilliant tactical record right now, sure to keep the band's throngs of Egypto-heads fervently on board and rabidly signing Nile's praises. or

8) KRYOBURN - 'Atman Project' 4:39; from Enigmatic Existence (Candlelight USA)
This young New Mexico-based band arrives more than ready to destroy metal stages the world over with a powerful mix of high concept influences such as Meshuggah, Mnemic, Strapping Young Lad and Fear Factory, yet fueled by the aggression and chaos of early Machine Head. Gives Lamb Of God a run for its mutton. or

9) ELEPHANT - 'Istar Bleeds' 3:35; from Sands Of Mortality (Elephant)
Caught in the nether light between an obscure sort of Maiden-derived intimacy, progressive death and grim black metal, Elephant are an underground enigma drowning in a sea of impressionable creativity. Trust me, you've never heard songs constructed quite this way. Contact: Chris Passas, 6323 Old St., Nags Head, NC 27959, or

10) GAGGLE OF COCKS - '(Breathe) Suffocation' 4:01; from American Trash (Mudwater Riffs)
Not since Melvins, Antiseen, Dwarves, Butthole Surfers and Agony Column has a band sounded so incendiary, Gaggle Of Cocks writing some of the freshest, nastiest, most amusing beer-soaked stompers in years. Call it stoner rock, redneck rock, punked up metal, booze metal... whatever the case, it make you want to drink one. Contact: Villain Entertainment, 1 Hidden Pines Way, Bohemia, NY 11716-4200, (646) 249-4358, or

11) THE AGONY SCENE - 'Prey' 3:51; from The Darkest Red (Roadrunner)
Perhaps the American metalcore band with the most vicious of bites, The Agony Scene match the visceral slash of their sound with massive riffs and vocal change-ups that should spell heavy metal success for this hugely moshpit-ready hopeful. or

12) BEN JACKSON GROUP - 'Mean Machine' 4:20; from All Over You (Escapi/Screaming Ferret)
Crimson Glory's Ben Jackson continues to make vital, exhilarating, novel traditional metal, no matter who the collaborators. His encyclopedic knowledge of the form has stood him in good stead as he moves forward with his edgy, slightly modern but aggressive and grounded metal alloys. or

13) EMBRACE THE END - 'Carbombs And Conversations' 4:23; from Counting Hallways To The Left (Abacus)
Sacramento's Embrace The End are the next candidate for heaviest, craziest band on the planet, their lurching stops, starts and destruction pressure points already legion in the live underground. For visionary glimpses into the future of insanely proggy grinding deathcore, look no further than this band and their daunting skill set. or

14) ALL SHALL PERISH - 'Our Own Grave' 4:07; from Hate. Malice. Revenge (Nuclear Blast)
Ushering in a new dawn for traditional death metal, Oakland CA's All Shall Perish astonish with a heartless attack based on cursed carnality and technical acumen that is well above the fray. Operating in a tough theater, this band has toured with everybody and triumphed. Incredibly on their first record, these warriors sound like 15 year veterans. or

15) POTENTIAL THREAT - 'Enemy Within' 2:50; from 2.0 EP (Potential Music)
Unleashing a thick, very professional and textured hardcore with metal tendencies (refreshingly closer to old school hardcore, like the best of Pro-Pain or Biohazard), San Francisco veterans Potential Threat have created a virulent strain. Huge guitars and charismatic though shouty vocals push this a notch above - very, very surprised these guys are not signed right now. Contact: POB 390160, Mt. View CA 94039-0160, (408) 230-5212, or

16) MESHUGGAH - 'Dehumanization' 2:54; from Catch Thirty Three (Nuclear Blast)
Meshuggah have changed the face of extreme progressive metal and their confrontational tactics continue - Catch Thirty Three is a tangled mass of music, one (sorta) 47-minute track long. Rewards are rich to those who get inside this cage and rattle, and in fact, the architecture is less unwieldy as it sounds - Meshuggah's math rock reveals itself as positively seductive. or

17) WIDOW - 'Misstery' 4:23; from On Fire (
Widow's Midnight Strikes was a much talked about minor classic of pure and true metal, so anticipation has been on fire for... On Fire. Uniquely combining a sincere and stabbing horror with classic metal licks, Widow has built a worldwide following - rare for an indie band (indie no longer... stay tuned to the band's extensive site for more). Contact: 1001 Simmons St., New Bern NC 28560, or

18) EKTOMORF - 'Instinct' 3:46; from Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
Hungary's Ektomorf have become a beloved institution to fans of Sepultura and Soulfly, this engaging act adding a sense of Eastern European folklore to their crushing, buzzing rhythmic sound, resulting in a metal experience that chugs and moshes with the best of them. Merciless production and powerful roaring vocals complete the Budapestilence. or