KnuckleTracks #110

1) TESTAMENT – ‘The Formation Of Damnation’ 4:33; from (Nuclear Blast)
Long-awaited and explosively worth the ramp up, Testament’s new opus re-establishes the band as the most forceful, serious and classy act on the traditional thrash stage. Killer production values accompany the band’s elegant though extreme riff acumen. Welcome back, indeed. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

2) WARREL DANE – ‘Messenger’ 3:58; from Praises To The War Machine (Century Media)
Nevermore legend Warrel Dane has created an astonishing collection of songs, more steadfastly metal than many expected. But the focus is on the man’s incredible actorly and painterly vocals, Warrel passionate in his many guises, commanding the listener to pay attention to the man’s foreboding words. HYPERLINK "", HYPERLINK "" or

3) THUNDERBREW – ‘War Song’ 6:17; from Hell’s Too Full (Thunderbrew)
Huge solid black doom riffs applied to forward-amassing metal songs – that’s the magic behind this swaggering barroom rocker. Think Trouble crossed with American Dog and yer halfway to the hangover. Which won’t hurt as much given the good time had by all with these slightly rednecked rock ‘n’ rolling numbers. Contact: 2901 Ferris Rd., Wilmington DE 19805, 302-994-3647, HYPERLINK "", or HYPERLINK ""

4) AVANTASIA – ‘Lost In Space’ 3:54; from The Scarecrow (Nuclear Blast)
Tobias Sammet is back with his latest star-filled epic, and the passion infused into these anthems is legion. Already proven as an entity with which many stars want to participate heartily, Tobias and Avantasia have taken the next step toward building an institution replenishing of the metal soul. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

5) FINAL STAGE – ‘Infidel’ 5:06; from Through The Mirror (Final Stage)
Power metal of a distinctly traditional and timeless nature, Through The Mirror shows an impressive level of dept and maturity, as Final Stage follow up their Flight Of The Phoenix EP with aplomb. Production values are rich and powerful, and the band’s skills permeate through prog passion, even if strength of song is always central. Contact: 530 Oak Park Dr., Windsor, ON N8N 4P2, 519-792-3407, HYPERLINK "", HYPERLINK "" or

6) A GRUESOME FIND – ‘Kingdom Crusher’ 4:36; from Of Blood And Nobility (A Gruesome Find)
A virulent and exciting strain of death plagues this eminently professional black metal band, primed and white-hot for signing. Vocals, production, musicianship… it all makes for an explosive package that could make this excellently monikered band the next big find on the extreme metal landscape. Contact: 3550 Secor Rd., #204, Toledo, OH 43606, HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

7) ARSIS – ‘We Are The Nightmare’ 4:03; from (Nuclear Blast)
Seven year veterans, Virginia’s Arsis conduct blistering, high-tension compositions of seductive blackness. But their strength is in meticulous high speed playing that courts not only technical neo-black metal but also death metal and progressive gothic atmospheres. Consider them Dimmu-slayers of a most intellectual order. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

8) MIDNATTSOL – ‘En Natt I Nord’ 4:00; from Nordlys (Napalm)
Nordic folk metal’s hottest (coldest?!) new talents, Midnattsol construct frosty anthems of classical-tinged beauty, driven operatic through lush female vocals but also an adherence to huge metal riffs and twin leads for miles. Crushing yet upscale production brings it all together in one of the genre’s most anticipated new signings. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

9) MESHUGGAH – ‘obZen’ 4:24; from obZen (Nuclear Blast)
Meshuggah are back and continuing to confound. Since they started making their unique origami metal, no one has dared try duplicate it, so here they are back creating new folded sculptures and twisted steel abominations. More song-based this time, Meshuggah are likely to convince even more thinking metalheads to come on board and… do the math! HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

10) WINDS OF PLAGUE – ‘Decimate The Weak’ 3:38; from Decimate The Weak (Century Media)
Southern California’s Winds Of Plague wrap it all up an explosive package, offering modern metal progressively arranged, vaulted atmospherically with keyboards, and then sent into a death metal spiral through the gut-churning vocals of Johnny Plague. Add a hint of the band’s hardcore roots and an uneasy black metal vibe, and the result is an enveloping, provocative metal feast. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

11) SWORN ENEMY – ‘Time To Rage’ 2:21; from Maniacal (Century Media)
Queens, NY thrashcore veterans Sworn Enemy arrive boiling o’er with their thrashiest album yet, recalling the root tradition of the big four but with biting, high-speed riffs and hardcore roars destined to snap yer neck. Co-produced by As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis and Life Of Agony’s Joey Z, Maniacal is a searing, modern metal onslaught. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

12) THE PARLOR MOB – ‘Carnival Of Crows’ 3:27; from And You Were A Crow (Roadrunner)
Stardom-bound retro indie rockers The Parlor Mob do one (or ten) better than the Jet/Wolfmother type crowd by bringing both riffs and prog-minded intricacy to their barroom send-up game. This should be a big hit, led in sales by those privileged to having seen the guys tear it up live. Dynamic, explosive, and like I say, interestingly note-dense and guitar-mad. HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

13) HAUK – ‘Raven Wings’ 4:36; from No Mercy For The Slain (Hauk)
L.A.’s Hauk break with all tradition in combining timeless Maiden-esque melodies with folk/pagan metal elements, creating enchanting worlds and storylines worth repeated visits. Confrontation and defiance of death are the album’s main themes, and sophisticated textures drawing from a number of disciplines set the perfect stage for the band’s renaissance and medieval dramatics. Contact: Baldur Rising Music, 6325 Blanchard Canyon Road, Tujunga, CA 91042, HYPERLINK "", HYPERLINK ""

14) DEFLAGRATION – ‘Relentless’ 4:53; from A Call To Arms (Crackhouse Music)
From the professional seared-surface solidity of ‘Relentless’, it’s obvious that Ohio’s Deflagration are ready for signing. Self-described as a “four-piece heavy metal swagger band from Findlay OH” Deflagration is actually so much more, dangerously yet subtly combining extreme styles while maintaining hook-mad strength of song, while not afraid to inject fierce, angry performances. Contact: 334 Seventh St.,
Findlay, OH 45840, HYPERLINK "", HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

15) IN FLAMES – ‘The Mirror’s Truth’ 2:59; from A Sense Of Purpose (Koch)
Swedish melodic death legends In Flames continue to grind out superlative, thinking man’s thrash, combining provocative crossover metalcore moves with dyed-in-the-wool Swedish headbanging tradition. A Sense Of Purpose will one day surely become positioned as one of the band’s latter-era classics, given its heft, aggression, and guitar-charged churn. HYPERLINK "" or

16) BABYLON MYSTERY ORCHESTRA – ‘Crusader’ 5:07; from Axis Of Evil (Babylon Mystery Orchestra)
One of the most distinctive, individualist and bravely political underground artists on the music scene today, Sidney Allen Johnson has now launched his fourth and most ambitious world-beating statement, tackling “Islamic terrorism, socialism, secret societies and end times Christian theology,’ using his totally unique language of weirdly gothic, hypnotic and heat-swelled doom metal. Contact: 610 Flowers St., Greenville AL 36037, HYPERLINK "" or HYPERLINK ""

17) MUSK OX – ‘Entre la Terre et le Ciel (edit)’ 5:07; from Musk Ox (Musk Ox)
Weaving captivating acoustic passages with stunning vocals, delicate woodwinds, melodica, piano and soft ambiance, Musk Ox’s debut album is a forlorn journey through natural realms both sorrowful and beautiful. Fans of old Ulver, Agalloch, and Empyrium take note: premium Canadian neo-folk has arrived. Contact: 55 Aylmer Ave. Apt#2, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 2X2, Canada,,