KnuckleTracks #109

KnuckleTracks #109

1) DEATH ANGEL – ‘Sonic Beatdown’ 3:28; from Killing Season (Nuclear Blast)
Legendary west coast thrashers Death Angel are back with an album every bit as organic, dangerous and irresistible as Frolic In The Park from 20 years back. The Led Zeppelin of thrash? The argument can be cogently made, given this band’s fearless borderless creativity, really, not of a prog nature, but on a realm more abstract and songful… like Zep, shimmering and smart despite simplicity., or

2) THUNDERDRIVER – ‘ThunderHead’ 4:58; from Thunderdriver (Thunderdriver)
Thunderdriver is a total anomaly in a scene that seemed to have a bit of everything… except this. Hard to describe, but what you get here is a totally kick-ass scruffy biker metal band that sounds like a cross between your favourite NWOBHM band with one 45 to their name on one hand, and the heaviest Ted Nugent and Blackfoot songs on the other. Eight tracks of drink ‘em down, shoot ‘em up raucous rock for when those old Saxon albums wear out. Contact: 19661 W. Brae Loch Rd., Grayslake IL 60030, 847-217-5909 (or 312-316-9523 for booking), or

3) SCALE THE SUMMIT – ‘Wolves’ 4:51; from Monument (Scale The Summit)
Houston’s Scale The Summit create vaulted, inspiring, instrumental progressive metal that is as surprisingly accessible as it is technically daunting. Guitarist Chris Letchford is known for his 8 string guitar virtuosity, and the band’s profile will only continue to elevate as discerning music fans discover this gem. Contact: 1324 Gardenia, Houston TX 77018,, or

4) PRIAPISM – ‘Cellbound’ 4:13; from Priapism demo (Priapism)
This New England band manages a fresh and often astonishing synthesis of today’s outer limits progressive death, traditional death, and the rarely attempted original progressive death of bands like Cynic and Atheist, the latter’s Steve Flynn having good things to say about this band’s intelligent architectures. The four tracks on the band’s demo should surely get them signed. Contact: 324 Forbes Ave., New Haven CT 06512,,

5) PHOENIX REIGN – ‘Transcendent’ 4:25; from Destination Unknown (Phoenix Reign)
This Queens, NY epic metal act excels in a number of directives, including the explosive yet organic production values chosen for their blustery record, the band’s anthemic, hooky sound, which draws cogently from the ‘80s greats, and above all, the vocal work of Theresa Gaffney, who adds a toughness and power not usually heard in this role. Contact: 38-11 Ditmars Blvd., Suite 394, Astoria, NY 11105, 917-617-0597, or

6) ALESTORM – ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge (edit)’ 3:59; from Captain Morgan’s Revenge (Napalm)
“Scottish pirate metal.” What more do you want on a frigid winter’s eve? (other than some ale to wash it down, of course). In any event, check out the driving rhythms, the heroic melodies, the Skyclad-ish vocals, the keyboard icing on the cake… Alestorm fly the Jolly Roger high! or

7) RESISTANCE – ‘Inhumanation’ 4:42; from Patents Of Control (Lion Music)
US power metallers Resistance now have their second record for the esteemed Lion Music, Patents Of Control being more of a traditional hard-edged ‘80s-influenced album with a tough thrash exterior. Musicianship is to the forefront however, and the Neil Kernon mix is steely and hi-fidelity, allowing the band’s obvious time-honoured chops to shine through.,,

8) GOD SIZE HATE – ‘Far Into The East’ 5:04; from Again We Bleed (God Size Hate)
That magic you felt hearing Metallica’s irresistible thrash hooks for the first time is embedded within this full-length album by Rochester’s God Size Hate. But this is down more of a harsher death-vocalized path, perhaps drawing comparisons with Amon Amarth, at least in terms of stadium-sized riffs. HUGE potential. Contact: 43 Names Rd., Rochester NY 14623,, or

9) THE OCEAN – ‘Eoarchaean’ 4:45; from Precambrian (Metal Blade)
German collective The Ocean is more like an army than a band, but listen two their harrowing new two-CD album, and it becomes clear the quantity and quality of creativity these provocateurs throw into their work. Meshuggah-esque with a hint of US artcore, The Ocean is a force changing and charging metal the likes not seen since Neurosis and Today Is The Day. or

10) ATROCITY – ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ 4:47; from Werk 80 II (Napalm)
Yes, it’s an A-ha cover, and the rest of the album is a collection of amusingly tough, smart post-punk covers as well, arranged with earnest sophistication, executed with aplomb and skill. Werk 80 II is the long-awaited follow-up to Werk 80, and once more, it’s sure to have the metal world indulging anew in guilty pleasures. or

11) MERKABAH – ‘Dahaka (Guardian Of The Timeline)’ 4:48; from The Realm Of All Secrets (Merkabah)
Dauntingly classy progressive metal with female vocals is the order of the day on Merkabah’s second full-length. But what is refreshing and mesmerizing about the panorama of this album is its dynamics between acoustic arrangements and metal, as well as the band’s canny skill in avoiding gothic rock clichés. Crisp, exacting production enhances the ambitious arrangements, making for a serious sonic trip. Contact: 3050 ch. St. Louis #108, Quebec QC G1W 1R4,,,

12) BLOODSPOILED – ‘My Silent Journey’ 4:46; from BloodSpoiled demo (BloodSpoiled)
Killer thrash antics from this hot new Danish band, BloodSpoiled’s four track demo including a hint of death but catchy riffs and cogent constructions to form a headlock on your memory circuits. Complex yet groovy rhythms complete the remarkable class and star power of the band’s sound. Contact: or

13) CATASTROPHIC – ‘Pathology Of Murder’ 3:50; from Pathology Of Murder (Napalm)
They’ve had their lineup changes, but decapitating darlings Catastrophic are still a “Grade A” US death metal supergroup. It helps when the playing is this note-dense and confident, and it also helps when the production is meticulous but still slicing. Pathology Of Murder has it all, plus novel riff ideas for miles. or

14) DRACONIAN – ‘Seasons Apart (edit)’ 3:59; from Turning Season Within (Napalm)
Fourth record for these classy Swedes, Draconian creating an expert alloy between doom and Goth with detailed appointments and some of the most dynamic and convincing female vocals in the business out of Lisa Johansson. Explosive, bombastic production is the added bonus. or

15) WOODS OF YPRES – ‘The Northern Cold’ 5:35; from Woods 3: Deepest Roots & Darkest Blues (Woods Of Ypres)
Canada’s richest, fullest, warmest, most powerful black metal experience, Woods Of Ypres is now onto their third enthralling opus, an album that rumbles with big Bathory-sent drums but also Dimmu-like layering and textures. Come hear the best of all extreme metal worlds coalescing in nature frosted. Contact: 720 Centre St. S, Whitby, ON, Canada L1N 4W8,, or

16) PSYCHOTIC GARDENING – ‘Unwanted Guest’ 3:17; from Hurdur (Psychotic Gardening)
The kind of thing Phil Anselmo would appreciate, Psychotic Gardening are an arresting and toxic brew bubbling up with death, horror metal, gloom, funereal procession music and murder metal. Cross Necrophagia with Acid Bath, Today Is The Day and Bronx Casket Co. and consider yourself as good as gone. Contact: 18 – 464 St. Mary Ave., Winnipeg MB R3C 0N4, or