KnuckleTracks #96

1) OSI – ‘Free’ 3:20; from Free (InsideOut Music America)
OSI issued one of the greatest albums of 2003 in their Office Of Strategic Influence debut. Now Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex-Dream Theater) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) are back with what many will call the greatest album of 2006. Dark, Wire-like, progressive, rhythmic, Floyd-ian… this is a hard rock treasure., or

2) CANNIBAL CORPSE – ‘Necrosadistic Warning’ 3:28; from Kill (Metal Blade)
Cannibal Corpse have never faltered from their throne as kings of death metal, and Kill – perhaps their punchiest yet earthiest production yet – maintains the band’s distinguished position as gore lords to the core. The riffs are superlative, circular, thoughtful and balanced for maximum science and accessibility, while George assumes his role as spokesmangler for this challenging form of musical mutation. or

3) TRIVIUM – ‘Ascendancy’ 4:25; from Ascendancy Special Edition Release (Roadrunner)
Trivium have quickly risen to front tier star status among vibrant, forward-thinking metalcore acts. Ascendancy has been out for awhile, but it continues to resonate, along with incendiary shows along the band’s ruthless touring schedule. Come relive the power of a band rapidly rising. or

4) CELTIC FROST – ‘Ground’ 3:55; Monotheist (Century Media)
The legendary art rock black metalists from Switzerland return with a masterwork of velvet-shrouded importance. Monotheist is as intellectually vaulted as it is deliciously demonic and maniacally avant garde. Four years in the making, Monotheist is the product of careful consideration and considerable anguish on the part of Tom and Martin. A hearty welcome back is in order. or

5) TEMPLE OF BLOOD – ‘Realm Of Insufferable Burning (The Horrors Of Hell)’ 5:24; from Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind (Temple Of Blood)
Alabama’s Temple Of Blood stand near alone at the nexus between power metal, meticulous speed, certain thrash sensibilities and a fire and brimstone battle between good and evil that has its roots in the likes of doom legends Trouble. Cogent NWOBHM and mid-‘80s proto-power complete the enigmatic sound picture. Contact: POB 2130, Madison AL 35758-2130, or

6) KORPIKAANI – ‘Vakirauta’ 3:44; from Tales Along This Road (Napalm)
Man, this is Finnish drinking man’s folk metal at its snappiest, fastest and funnest! We defy you to listen to ‘Happy Little Boozer’ and not wanna crack a beer and holler along. Destined to be the party album in Tundra Town for years to come. Salut! or

7) ONE MAN ARMY AND THE UNDEAD QUINTET – ‘So Grim So True So Real’ 4:22; from 21st Century Killing Machine (Nuclear Blast)
The Crown’s Johan Lindstrand is impressing critics the world over with his new, heavier, groovier and more hi-fidelity version of thrash than what we got with his fast and panicked legendary act. It’s a swinging headbang start to finish, extra robust due to the drum skills of Marek Dobrowolski. Weapons everywhere! or

8) DELIAN LEAGUE – ‘Dejected’ 4:52; from Truth In Chaos (Delian League)
Delian League have on their hands an inspiring dark power metal debut that undeniably displays the band as the pros they are. Acts such as Evergrey and Eidolon come to mind, with vocalist Jude Andrade exuding magnetism that is perfect and necessary for this talented band’s complex but songful structures. Contact: 22B Parkway Village, Cranford, NJ 07016, , or

9) THE OCEAN – ‘Swoon’ 4:11; from Aeolian (Metal Blade)
Germany’s The Ocean are making waves as forerunners of a new artful form of progressive death, their epic strains winning over discerning metalheads the world over. Aeolian is the abrasive twin of ‘04’s Fluxion, and together these expansive albums form an Opeth-tall order for the future of metal. www.the or

10) MAROON – ‘Wake Up In Hell’ 3:54; from When Worlds Collide (Century Media)
A vegan straightedge quintet from Germany, Maroon mean business, and their business is killing wimpy crooning metalcore bands with ‘80s metal power bits. From the production to the vocals to the velocities, this is potent, rock-hard, thrashcore stuff, unhindered by the clone-ability that happens when everybody is from the same scene. or

11) MASTERY – ‘Lethal Legacy’4:22; from Lethal Legacy (Corporal Punishment/Navarre)
Toronto’s Mastery play an unbridled Bay Area-styled thrash that is allowed to explore fresh progressive realms, due to the fact that… there are no vocals! Yes, completely instrumental, yet heavy as hell, Lethal Legacy is something new - and singularly punishing., or

12) HATEBREED – ‘To The Threshold’ 2:51; from MTV2 – Headbanger’s Ball: The Revenge (Roadrunner)
Hatebreed are now seen as the grand innovators of hardcore’s mastering of metal principles, so it’s fitting they have been called upon to represent this gargantuan 38 track collection of metalcore, hardcore, post-nu metal, thrash and straight-up metal anthems. or

13) CRONIAN – ‘Diode Earth’ 5:00; from Terra (Century Media)
Cronian is a roundtable meeting of two of black metal’s best minds, Vintersorg and Borknagar’s Oystein G. Brun. Five years in the making, Terra is a lush but somehow still intimate trip through progressive darkness not unlike fuller band moments from Peccatum. A sensuous but poisonous trip with a surprising amount of modern technology. or

14) CLAWFINGER – ‘The Faggot In You’ 3:26; from Hate Yourself With Style (Nuclear Blast)
Sweden’s Clawfinger have seen more global success than most metal bands ever will, but a good decade after their fantastic commercial peak, they’re still provoking taut reaction, set to a nervy punk-up industrial metal stew that cuts to the heart of the matter. or

15) SONATA ARCTICA – ‘8th Commandment’ 3:55; from For The Sake Of Revenge (Nuclear Blast)
Finnish power metal legends Sonata Arctica have clawed their way to the top of the pure power heap through crafted melodies, speed, keyboards and songs that are drenched in the anthemic time and time again. This huge CD and DVD pack captures them live and precise and professional – drama guaranteed. or

16) DARK EMPIRE – ‘Northern Sky’ 5:04; from Distant Tides (CD Inzane LLC)
Matt Moliti’s gleaming metal machine Dark Empire is a visceral power prog feast for the senses. Moliti was trained at Berklee, studying under the legendary Joe Stump, and what he’s constructed here is an album of dark, neo-classical metal madness that soars upon the vocals of Jens Carlsson, also belter for Savage Circus and Persuader. Contact: POB 827, Quogue NY 11959,,, or

17) IRON FIRE – ‘Ironhead’ 4:24; from Revenge (Napalm)
Power metal with earthy roots in the best traditionalists, Denmark’s Iron Fire return after a long absence marked by Martin Steene’s hook-up with remnants of Mercyful Fate to form Force Of Evil. Revenge is Martin’s anchored take on true power metal purity and all told, the album captures the heaviness this genre is supposed to include with purpose and might. or