It’s always mind-blowing and immensely satisfying when a brand new act emerges out of nowhere to kick everyone’s ass. On their debut release, Atlanta’s Paladin unleash a total barrage of shred-tastic power metal anthems laced with a melodeath vibe. The dual clean/harsh vocal approach is welcoming and fresh, whilst the general momentum ensures no head is left unbanged. Utterly blazing, blistering, face-melting stuff. If you keep tabs on one power metal band in 2019, make these guys your top priority.
Although it’s a re-release, Scardust’s debut album that came to life about two years ago has to take ‘album of the month’ for May 2019. With Sands of Time, the Israeli prog miracle workers took over the legacy that timeless progressive metal legends like Symphony X and Dream Theater have build throughout the decades and made it their own, breathing new life and a different energy into it. With a lot of classical music influences and possibly some of the best choirs to have ever been featured on a metal album, Scardust easily place themselves amongst the elite of the current prog scene! So hit play, hit repeat and stay tuned for album #2. It’s already in the works!
Having come seemingly out of the blue, Long Island’s progressive Deathcore upstarts Monochromatic Black have put out an outstanding debut with Pneuma. The band has probably set a record for how much quality can be packed in 24 minutes of music. From stellar technique and savagery to cohesive and unpredictable songwriting and great production, this record has everything needed to take the average metalhead to Nirvana and beyond. The six tracks are loaded with massive riffs, monstrous breakdowns, relentless drums and great vocals. Last but not least, everything about this release is DIY which makes it all the more appealing.
Making small, yet effective changes to their trademark formula, Fleshgod Apocalypse craft an album that is catchier and more varied than previous releases, to the benefit of memorability, but without sacrificing theatricality and technicality. One of the best metal releases of 2019 so far.
Legendary blackened metal duo Darkthrone unleashed their latest opus, Old Star, right at the end of the month… and what a way to bring May to a close. Old Star continues in the vein of their previous album, Arctic Thunder, blending riff-centric traditional metal with swaggering, blackened aesthetics and a thick and undying love for all things Celtic Frost (To Mega Therion to be precise), though to say Old Star is just another rehashing of past glories is selling things way too short. The entire, near-forty minute album is a nonstop riff machine, nimbly switching gears at the drop of a hat. From start to finish, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto deliver the goods. In typical Darkthrone fashion, this blend of blackened traditional metal madness sounds exactly like what we were all hoping for. At this point in their career Darkthrone is untouchable, and Old Star just cements that fact.
Ares Kingdom has been remarkably consistent throughout their career, releasing a classic death/thrash album in 2010 with Incendiary. For their fourth album, By the Light of their Destruction, the band wanted to take things in a more primitive direction. The result is that album’s songs are more compact, but still vicious. The riffs are still heavily indebted to trad and pack a ton of melody along with manic intensity, along with a little Bolt Thrower-esque rumbling. Perhaps due to the unrefined direction the band was aiming for, the drums are a little tinny and the production is in general muddy, but it’s a testament to the strength of Ares Kingdom’s riffs and songwriting that the album doesn’t suffer much for it. By the Light of their Destruction may not hit as hard as Incendiary, but it’s still a mighty impressive release in its own right.
Epic, cheesy, heroic. These are words I often use when describing my favourite albums, but make no mistake; I only use these words if I mean it. So, if I were to say that Gloryhammer’s third and latest album, Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex, was one of the most ridiculously epic tales of heroism that I’ve heard from a power metal album, you can be damn sure it’s true. Between the powerful cries of Angus McFife and the cosmic colours created by the rest of band, there’s no room to criticize the skill of these galactic warriors. Additionally, while the core sound is true, pure power metal, the songwriting is pleasingly dynamic. So, bust out your most enchanted headphones and get a load of this ultra-melodic cheesefest and see for yourself why this just might be the greatest power metal album of the year.
The latest release of Deathspell Omega, which as usual came out of the blue, caught me off guard on many levels. The Furnaces of Palingenesia is not only an album that expands on their nightmarish sound but also an album that dares to move towards all directions breaking all boundaries. If anything, Deathspell look back at Paracletus’ structures and twist them, whereas The Synarchy of Molten Bones borrowed more elements from FAS. Deathspell Omega prove that there is no end to their creativity in every aspect-from the dissonant chaos that finds some moments of wretched peace here and there, to the lyrical sheet that is replete with references and evokes images of a newborn humanity under a totalitarian regime. Easily an album that I see myself putting on the top of my end year list.