KnuckleTracks #90

1) BYZANTINE – ‘Jeremiad (edit)’ 4:32; from ...And They Shall Take Up Serpents (Prosthetic)
With shocking clarity of purpose and drinkability of riff right out of classic Prong, West Virginia’s Byzantine have found their way through the hardcore maze to a seductive sense of song that will have Mastodon fans doing a switchback. Metal rockin’ prog-infested hardcore fun that headbangs better than any number of calculator bands could ever hope. or

2) NEVERMORE – ‘Final Product’ 4:21; from This Godless Endeavor (Century Media)
Nevermore have come back from the edge of reality renewed and fired up with an English-assembled record of explosive song-strong thrash. Prog elements intact, Nevermore have nonetheless concentrated on huge riffs, at many self-assured speeds but headbanging riffs all the same. Live, these songs will level the place. or

3) AS I LAY DYING – ‘Confined’ 3:10; from Shadows Are Security (Metal Blade)
With an astounding 44,877 in sales and a #20 Billboard placement in its first week, the hotly anticipated new As I Lay Dying record is huge metal news. The music enclosed is just as crushing, as pure, unadulterated roaring hardcore metal – at least of the AILD variety – has blasted the masses. Salute and kudos and congratulations to Metal Blade. or

4) DEVILDRIVER – ‘Hold Back The Day’ 4:14; from The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand (Roadrunner)
Dez Fafara has seen the metal peaks with Coal Chamber, but he’s never had quite the purist accolades he’s gotten through the ferocious and pounding he-man metal of Devil Driver and its quickly gaining catalogue. Forget all you know about melodic hardcore or Swedish death metal, Devildriver have got the real goods. or

5) DARKANE – ‘Secondary Effects’ 3:55; from Layers Of Lies (Nuclear Blast)
Swedish melodic death metallers Darkane have struck a nerve with Layers Of Lies, creating a palpable, very lively, verging on chaotic thrashing madness rarely seen anymore as records from their cohorts become more polished. As expected, the rhythms rule, the production sort of smacks, and lyrically, well, this band is the best at the game. or

6) PRESTO BALLET – ‘Peace Among The Ruins (edit)’ 4:57; from (InsideOut Music)
Metal Church’s Kurdt Vanderhoof has come up with a classic album that makes use of the man’s insane love of huge ‘70s stadiums act from prog through metal to simply classic. Destined to top many best of’s of the year, peace Among The Ruins is a thrilling all analogue rock ride. or

7) OF INFINITY – ‘The Voice Without’ 5:33; from The Essence Of Infinity (Of Infinity)
Of Infinity is a female-fronted three-piece from San Antonio, Texas, and their sound is a seductive cross between the pageantry of Nightwish with larger, more intricate and Gothic ambitions. The band creates a so-called “wall o’ sound” which aspires in tone to a complex black metal ethic reminiscent of Borknagar, although this is closer to old school gothic in structure. Contact: POB 780224, San Antonio TX 78278, (210) 380-8934, or

8) DECEASED – ‘A Witness To Susperia’ 4:02; from As The Weird Travel On (Thrash Corner/The End)
Encyclopedic metal legend King Fowley has returned with a crushing yet hook-laden and epic record of long tracks and anthem after bloody anthem. The man is a pro at balancing chaos, dirt and songwriting prowess – the result is an album with uncompromising blurry, boozy integrity yet that certain something that beats softly a pleasurable commercialism. Contact: POB 577, Las Piedras PR 00771,, or

9) WIDOW – ‘Dead End’ 3:56; from On Fire (Cruz Del Sur)
Widow’s Midnight Strikes album ruled, and On Fire delivers the same spirited drinking man’s metal, rife with melodic yet dark and hard classic riffs, vocals versatile and strong, songs memorable and destined for live anthemic status. Contact: 1001 Simmons St., New Bern NC 28560,, or

10) BENEATH THE MASSACRE – ‘Comforting Prejudice’ 2:32; from Evidence Of Inequity (Galy)
Quebec’s Beneath The Massacre have just raised the bar for inhuman death metal hardcore crushing speed and maniacal riffing. But somehow the five terror-filled sonic sculptures enclosed breath and succeed, due mostly to the clear, unyielding mix and the expert stop-on-a-dime playing of their creators. Contact: 5100 De Verdun, POB 28544, Verdun QC Canada H4G 3L7, 514-769-6137, or

11) ARTILLERY HELL – ‘Humanity Wears A Burial Mask’ 4:58; from Artillery Hell (Artillery Hell)
One of the most powerful and all in all impressive demos we’ve ever received, Artillery Hell comprises three tracks of masterful post-Pantera, post-Gothenburg, post-Cradle professionalism. One might call this death, but the sheer force of its groove and production, er, kills death dead. Contact: 2434 Crystal Dr., Santa Clara CA 95051, (408) 621-1435, or

12) DISBELIEF – ‘Rewind It All (Death Or Glory)’ 4:15; from 66Sick (Nuclear Blast)
European in taste, sensibility and origin, death-cloaked veterans Disbelief have made a distinguished career out of confounding genre confinements. Doomy, deathy, yet technical and well-produced, 66Sick also adds an atmospheric, astringent guitar tone and rule –breaking gothic tendencies circa Passenger or The Great Deceiver. or

13) DEW-SCENTED – ‘Turn To Ash’ 3:07; from Issue V! (Nuclear Blast)
German thrashmaniacons Dew-Scented have turned in a blindingly bright and terrifyingly taut thrash epic that cruises at a multitude of altitudes. Astonishingly the band’s sixth album already, Issue VI is battered black and blue with a maturity that frankly, seemed heaped in spades right from the beginning. or

14) SHADOW GALLERY – ‘Andromeda Strain (edit)’ 4:21; from Room V (InsideOut Music)
Shadow Gallery are leaders in the new progressive rock realm, and Room V is exhilarating, positive, energetic evidence why this cult band’s following is as rabid as it is attentive. For drama, for sense of song, for production brilliance, Shadow gallery are a musicologist’s dream. or

15) ARCH ENEMY – ‘Nemesis (rough mix)’ 4:00; from Doomsday Machine (Century Media)
Arch Enemy are the most potent band poised to follow Lamb Of God into metal’s hallowed echelons, and they’ve done it the brave way, with a female vocalist in Angela, who - let’s face it - shreds male metalheads for breakfast and into the lunch hour. Doomsday Machine’s bonus of course, is that she does her thing o’er the storied licks of the legendary Ammotts. or

16) COMMANDER – ‘Relentless Savage Beating’ 3:22; from Wall Of Swords (Commander)
Kentucky’s Commander have come up with a series of six short songs that go immediately for the jugular, the band exuding a type of classic Bay Area thrash acumen reminiscent of, well, a bunch of things, from the hard, fast thrash of Testament to slower, groovier Metallica, to points deathier and even hardcore. Dearth of good riffs will never be the issue. Contact: POB 9694, Bowling Green KY, 42101, (270) 791-3170, or

17) AGENTS OF MAN – ‘Death Of Me’ 3:21; from Count Your Blessings (Century Media)
Formed by members of hardcore bands such as Bulldoze, One 4 One and Train Of Thought, Agents Of Man have created a huge buzz, moving 7500 copies of their debut EP despite only underground distro. Their sound is a whirlwind of post-hardcore metal sonics, their collective history creating a foundation that that has made writing at a superior level effortless. or

18) GODKING – ‘Take, Conquer, Consume’ 5:25; from Bloodrite (Godking)
Citing influences such as Vital Remains, Necrophagist, Emperor, Dream Theater, Yngwie… “blah blah, just about every goddamn metal band worth a shit ever!”, North Carolina’s Godking are a blistering, technical, innovative full-on death act looking to make a full debut album in October and get signed NOW. Ungodly riffs (and solos), and seriously sinister vocals… get this six track demo before it becomes highly collectible. Contact: 107 Oak Hollow Court, Raleigh NC 27613, (919) 781-7700, or