Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations (1980)

diamond head lightning to the nations

Diamond Head were who Metallica and Megadeth desperately wanted to be. A seventeen-year-old Lars Urlich famously flew to London to see them play after buying their debut from a magazine ad. Celtic Frost owed their career to the Holst-opened classic “Am I Evil?” Lightning to the Nations, is the “the missing link” between the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal and later speed metal.

The guitarwork and songwriting are excellent throughout. Driving Motorhead-style rhythm riffs served by pounding pickup beats and groovy bass lines progress power chords into solos that Blackmore and Tipton wish they had written. These extended leads serve not only as climaxes but continue building tension, alleviated only when the original verse riff (or a variation thereof) returns. Clever variations in the extended riff phrasing enable verses to wind and flow freely around catchy choruses, continuing effectively long after lesser groups would have ran them their course.

Yes, Lightning to the Nations is bluesy with many influences from the riff-based hard rock of the seventies. The vocalist even multi-tracked himself on “Sucking My Love” in imitation of Robert Plant. None of these rock roots serve to lessen the force and creativity present in the music. The atrocious keyboards and reverb mixed into the 1993 Metal Blade reissue do. Stick with the original LP and the 2011 “Deluxe Edition” CD remaster from the original tapes.

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Upcoming Miasma – Changes Reissue

miasma changes reissue

Miasma’s Changes is being reissued on CD and LP by Rotten Relics Records. This pressing of the long out of print and compositionally coherent caveman death metal classic is the first with the original sound since the original Lethal Records one from 1992.  It is being done with the approval of all band members, who contributed comprehensive art, photos, lyrics, and liner notes. Rotten Relics says T-shirts will be available too and warns that a Brazilian reissue intended for the South American market only (yeah right) without authorization of the band and probably without the original master is scheduled for release at the same time so watch out.

Listeners may stay informed on Rotten Relics’ Facebook page.

 

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Vader – The Ultimate Incantation Reissue

VADER ultimate incantation reissue 2cd
Vader
‘s debut, The Ultimate Incantation, is being reissued on June 3rd on both CD and LP by Polish label Witching Hour. The original, discarded recording session produced by Tomas Skogsberg at the famous Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, Sweden is included as a bonus disc. The lost Swedish session released for the first time should make this reissue worth checking out for fans of the band along with those of Swedish and Slayer-style death metal in general.

We are proud to present the long awaited reissue of VADER’s debut album “The Ultimate Incantation”. This album was a milestone in death metal history and a groundbreaking masterpiece for the Polish scene allowing our bands to be heard beyond the Iron Curtain. With this record VADER’s international career begun and it’s a cult classic since then. Once again we made our best to deliver this classic album as a top notch release. To match our words we will attach an extra stuff with never before released original album session done by THOMAS SKOGSBERG in SUNLIGHT STUDIOS. And that’s not all. We also asked the master himself – DAN SEAGRAVE to prepare new artwork for this release.

The 2xCD digipack may be pre-ordered from Witching Hour here.

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Profanatica reveal The Curling Flame of Blasphemy

profanatica the curling flame of blasphemy

Profanatica have revealed the art and track list for their upcoming album The Curling Flame of Blasphemy. One of the few fruitful artists in current metal and a mainstay of our best lists, drummer Paul Ledney (also a founder of Incantation) and guitarist John Gelso have spent the third millennium refining the first wave.

Track list:

1. Ordained in Bile
2. March to Golgotha
3. Magic & Muhr
4. Black Hymna
5. Host Over Cup
6. Rotten Scriptures
7. Yahweh Rejected
8. Bleed Heavenly Kingdom
9. Vile Blessing
10. Curling Flame

Track six, “Rotten Scriptures” may be previewed on Hells Headbangers Compilation Volume 8.

Scheduled for an early summer release, the frequently “funderground” label promises that The Curling Flame of Blasphemy will be another:

metalucifer heavy metal bulldozer

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Here In After Turns Twenty


immolation here in after

2016 marks twenty years since the release of Immolation’s sophomore album Here In After. Completely leaving speed metal convention behind, dissonant riffing and jazzy drumming weld into an infernal, polyrythmic Bosch canvas. All songs burn narratively: verses melt into Vigna’s Luciferian leads. These guitar heroics marshaling the hellfire make Here In After a dawn-bringer for the uninitiated in Immolation. Crucify the criminal Christ again!

dali corpus hypercubus

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Sarpanitum – Blessed Be My Brothers…

Sarpanitum blessed be my brothers

Sarpanitum’s Blessed Be My Brothers was one of Death Metal Underground’s rejected albums for the Best of 2015. The album initially showed promise. The introductory track, “Komenos”, presents the audience with Sarpanitum’s combination of chromatic death metal riffs, melodic heavy metal leads, Unique Leader Records brutality, and Emperor-like use of a melotron to approximate medieval polyphony to anchor the concept album’s theme of the Crusades.

“By Virtuous Reclamation” surges forth with soaring, harmonized guitars calling for the conquest of the Holy Land continuing into an Immolation style rhythm riff. A break starts the counterpointed dissonant riffing in the Unique Leader style that variates logically enough for Pope Urban II to call for crusade against the heathen Saracens with a metalcore scream, providing a harbinger of the randomness to come. The band returns to the opening riff minus the accompanying lead. The lead’s eventual return signals the start of the Emperor melotron. A sudden slowdown for a cheesy emotional solo continues into the original riffs, climaxing into a polyphonic blend of every musical element and texture. The song barely avoids falling on its face on the way to to the finish line.

The second real song, “Truth” opens directly with Unique Leader riff salad. The Emperor worship is only to plant listeners in a Western European medieval mindset to distract them from the fact the tension built up by the dissonant riffing is never appropriately resolved. The emotional stadium rock solos are just as disconnected from the death metal as the Emperor aping. “Glorification Upon the Bones of the Sundered Dead” better glues the riffs together but still resorts to emotional, Slash-style solos to impart the triumph of the Siege of Jerusalem.

If Blessed Be My Brothers had ended there, it would have been a disparate but listenable concept album. Instead Sarpanitum use the second half to tell the Muslim side of the later Crusades through similarly flawed but less effective songs. This isn’t just a 180 degree change in perspective: the band added another of their heavy metal heroes to the blender. Ersatz Gorguts riffing plus even more masturbatory glam rock solos leads distract from the effective atmospheric and brutal elements. The songs turn even more so into senseless technical deaf metal with Emperor rendered down into pop hooks.

The drastic changes of viewpoint and influence betray the album’s semi-successful first half. The atmosphere of Western mysticality established using Emperor to approximate a polyphonic medieval choir is wrecked by the hippie drum circle interlude, “I Defy For I Am Free”. Blessed Be My Brothers is a postmodern, apologetic Frankenstein. Wikipedia “neutral point of view” metal for meek liberals is antithetical to Emperor’s classical triumph and heavy metal’s “Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched and the weak,” virtus.

Listen at Willowtip Record’s Bandcamp

Better yet, just listen to In the Nightside Eclipse again instead.

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Good Friday Crucifixion Playlist

conan crucified boris vallejo

Billions celebrate Constantine’s syncretic solar deity’s crucifixion by eating fish today. Here’s a playlist of seven classic speed and death metal songs to contemplate this excruciating Roman suffocation method:

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Sammath releases “De Heidense Vlam Zal Branden” lyric video

sammath_-_strijd_-_re-issue

Sammath have released a lyric video for “De Heidense Vlam Zal Branden” to promote the vinyl reissue of their debut album, Strijd, on Hammerheart Records.  Strijd is more conventional than Sammath’s later albums and one of the best releases in the atmospheric, late nineties black metal style reminiscent of Summoning. Unlike their tawdry contemporaries, Sammath arranged primal tremolo-picked riffs with keyboard leads into narrative compositions. While the keyboards sometimes may seem a tad excessive today, the record succeeds in conjuring up romantic visions of dark age barbarity worthy of its Arthur Rackham cover. Those who enjoyed Kaeck’s Stormkult should take special note.

 

Strijd may be listened to in its entirety on Folter’s Bandcamp page. The LP may be ordered from Hammerheart Records.

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Demolition Hammer reunites

demolition hammer epidemic is reborn

Demolition Hammer have apparently reunited according to the group’s Facebook page. The brutal New York speed metal band last released notable material almost a quarter century ago with the hammering death/speed hybrid Epidemic of ViolenceAlex Marquez of fellow death speedsters Solstice (and Malevolent Creation’s Retribution) is taking over the drum stool from the deceased Vinny DazeWhether any touring or quality material rises from this reunion remains to be seen.

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