Corrosion Of Conformity – No Cross No Crown

The core Corrosion Of Conformity trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin has proven to be extremely passionate about music touring and composing hardcore albums but after 12 years a new record with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan back in the band is an event that fans truly hoped for. With this reunion and the consequent explosive creative force, C.O.C. proves to be stronger than ever and perfectly capable of regaining the deserved influential status in the current music scene with the album “No Cross No Crown” which showcases the band’s signature southern rock style.

Faithful fans will recognize the band’s iconic style on “The Luddite” which hits you right in the face with extremely vibrant guitar riffs obviously supported by precise drumming and delightfully dynamic bass chords as the whole instrumentation is always channeling irresistible stoner doom flavors. Pepper Keenan on vocals never disappoints as he simply embodies the song’s raw intensity as well as a wide range of authentic emotions.

“Cast The First Stone” also has what it takes to become the next groovy hit as guitars follow a deliciously wild rhythmic pattern that can acquire a frenetic distorted attitude but certainly maintains a profound Southern essence that becomes even more palpable in the highly adrenalized guitar solo.

Nobody could ever doubt the rare genuine passion of “Wolf Named Crow” as an enthusiastic rhythmic backbone is filled with a memorable overdose of hypnotizing stoner doom dynamics naturally leading to impressive and exquisitely trippy guitar solos proving once again the unique talent of these musicians.

“Nothing Left To Say” simply flows like a harmonious dream, a recollection of pale memories, fully expressed by Pepper’s emotive vocal delivery and hazy Southern rock melodies that will eventually gain extra raw power as guitar riffs acquire bolder sludge elements following an ex novo catchy rhythmic urgency.

The title track basically feels like a spacey breakdown/interlude evoking darkened nuances with intriguing doom infused stylish guitar work featuring loads of lavish melodies and Pepper’s warm voice guides the listeners through a hypnotic melodic maze.

Some grinding heavy guitar riffing takes the lead on “A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)” as the rhythmic structure constantly channels a groovy stoner rock/doom sonic realm yet the charismatic lead guitar work engages in more trippy melodic concoctions filled with charming melancholic vibes.

On the cover of legendary Queen’s “Son And Daughter” everything gets deliciously fuzzy as thick slow burner riffs create an unrestrained addictive stoner rock groove with pleasant bluesy accents and the outstanding melodic guitar leads & solo always hold a heartfelt vintage quality that perfectly matches the hazy rock mood.

As if a dozen years did not pass by, the band’s chemistry is very evident in each song and C.O.C. proves to be absolutely relevant, actually essential,  in the current music scene as “No Cross No Crown” goes beyond any possible expectation holding a timeless rock charisma further amplified by the remarkable mature musicianship & songwriting.

Municipal Waste – Slime and Punishment

After a four year (mostly) dormant period, the crossover revivalists Municipal Waste return with a grime drenched piece of political catharsis with Slime and Punishment. In just under 30 minutes run time, this is a call to arms to unearth your denim jacket and get caught In a mosh.

The Waste crew aren’t playing games and certainly upping the aggression this time around. While plenty of the humor and tongue-in-cheek song titles are still ever present, there is a aggression to the music that hasn’t really been heard previously, or at least to this extent. Songs like “Breathe Grease” hammer this concept like a blacksmith bashing away…only your skull and eardrums are the anvil. “Amateur Sketch” starts at a frantic pace leading its way to a Megadeth-esque breakdown. Throwing gas to the grease fire that is this album are the grind-core length tracks “Enjoy the Night” and “Excessive Celebration” which clock in at 00:49 and 1:29 respectively. These are offset by the more mid-tempo jams of “Slime and Punishment” and “Think Fast” which help round out the album overall.

While the riffing, d-beat laden tunes are rife with energy fans of the band, or for anyone that’s ever heard thrash/crossover before for that matter, should know what to expect. They aren’t reinventing their sound by any means, hell, they are doubling down and capitalizing on their influences. But honestly, does anyone really want Municipal Waste to try their hand at expanding their palate to, say, prog like Vektor? I think not. We all look to MW for a quick, fun, and often too short of a time. If partying, moshing, and quick infectious tunes a la Anthrax and Nuclear Assault sound like fun to you, jump in, the Slime is warm.

Beast In Black – Berserker

Those who were heartbroken when Battle Beast songwriter and guitarist Anton Kabanen left the band will be happy to enjoy his triumphant return with the newborn band Beast In Black and the explosive debut album “Berserker”.

The band’s renewed entity is ready to arise on the eponymous track “Beast In Black” with all kinds of power metal anthemic energy. Sharp and victorious guitar riffing & soloing will get you ready for the next battle with the expected generous dosage of polished shredding while majestic choirs and keyboards channel classic 80’s heavy metal.

On “Blind And Frozen” such vintage sound becomes more empowering with loads of catchy keyboards that contribute to build up an easy rhythm which acquires also some pompous yet absolutely irresistible 80’s pop melodic soul.

With “Born Again” the retro pop shenanigans are embellished by a more sentimental mood as the rhythm slows down at times to evoke emotional melodies in the midst of the usual massive guitar fancy tricks.

“Zodd The Immortal” might sound more serious ditching the big pop choruses to focus without any hesitation on a heavier sonic assault that certainly follows the major power metal guidelines but ultimately acquire a bold somber attitude with loads of entertaining guitar dynamics.

To properly close this album Beast In Black chooses the must-have ballad “Ghost In The Rain” which features all the emotional quality necessary to compose soothing dreamy melodies adorned by simple piano and gracefully passionate vocals.

Fans will be delighted to see that Anton’s seasoned songwriting skills are recognizable all over “Berserker”, an album infused with 80’s synth pop and cheesy power metal that has always had its own raison d’être.

Panzer – Fatal Command

Featuring Destruction’s bassist & vocalist Schmier, ex-Accept Stefan Schwarzmann on drums, V.O Pulver of Poltergeist & G.U.R.D on guitar and newly recruited lead guitarist Pontus Norgren of Hammerfall, Panzer makes a clear bold music statement and vows to stay true to heavy metal on the sophomore release “Fatal Command”.

As soon as “Satan’s Hollow” begins with a vicious guitar riffing galore and fancy melodic leads you know what to expect from these unstoppable metal veterans. Straight to the point, the band keeps a plummeting bass & drums combo while guitars and vocals never fail to sound fierce yet certainly catchy and a sweet classic metal shredding guitar solo fits the explosive mood.

The title track is another ‘80s style heavy metal anthem so it stays true to a recognizable music formula as galloping sharp guitars get you ready to headbang and of course the massive chorus and the skilled guitar solos are a nice addition.

Besides delivering a big catchy chorus “We Can Not Be Silenced” keeps alive a true metal essence and a rebel attitude with a constant guitar driven groove and absolutely audacious vocals while the lead guitar harmonious momentum brings some charismatic diversity.

“I’ll Bring You The Night” is filled with classic heavy metal dynamics as familiar chunky riffs keep a tight rhythm always spiced up by highly entertaining flamboyant lead guitar work that adds a melodic approach and a necessary sparkling variety.

“Skullbreaker” has an unmistakable vintage heavy metal structure as loads of classic guitar riffs build thick rhythmic sections and melodic leads channel a darker mood further enhanced by venomous vocals.

“The Decline (And The Downfall)” doesn’t really deviate from the whole true heavy metal approach but tends to focus on somber guitar melodies that obviously culminate with majestic polished solos delivering additional solemn depth but you still get some cohesive thrash oriented rhythmic patterns.

Call it a supergroup or a side project nevertheless there is no space for posers on “Fatal Command” as Panzer passionately pays homage to NWOBHM and thrash putting in the mix the best elements of an unforgettable golden era that we all learned to love.

Destruction – Thrash Anthems II

A thirty years career deserves a bombastic celebration and with the help of a successful crowd funding campaign Destruction has chosen to re-record and re-imagine a collection of classic songs on the album “Thrash Anthems II” which is the rightful continuation of the previous “Thrash Anthems” released in 2007.

With a moody acoustic intro “Confused Mind” starts this nostalgic trip revisiting the early days of Destruction and proceeds with the expected overdose of tight thrash style guitar riffing. Originally “United By Hatred” was on the same 1986 album “Eternal Devastation” and certainly maintains that vintage thrash sonic assault that we have learned to love.

“Black Mass” is an obscure beast with loads of crunchy riffing but also some memorable melodic guitars that acquire a renewed powerful crispy sound in this modern recording.

Originally released on the band’s first full length “Black death” successfully channels pure anger with straightforward guitar riffs and ravenous screams keeping old school thrash metal alive.

“Satan’s Vengeance” obviously comes with vibrant diabolical vibes embedded in the vicious guitar riffs and drumming complemented by a killer fast guitar solo.

Compilations or ‘best of’ albums often receive mixed feelings but if you are a loyal longtime fan of mighty Destruction “Thrash Anthems II” deserves a spot in your collection.

Belphegor – Totenritual

Belphegor, Austria’s blasting prophets of blasphemy unleash their latest offering of blood soaked blackened-death metal with Totenritual. Staying the course as they only know how, this album pummels and defiles the listener in the best way possible. Helmuth and the rest of his Satan obsessed cult members aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but rather expanding upon the fertile ground they have spent years tilling and corrupting.

As the successor to The Conjuring, we find new tempos and arrangements further explored here. While there are still blast-beats for days, new skin beater Bloodhammer expands his brutal drumming palate for more variety this time around and it is a welcome change. There are a multitude of tempos, textures with clean guitars, and overall variety in songwriting not seen at this depth previously. While most fans know what they are going to get from Belphegor, there are enough twists and surprises to make this a compelling listen and a strong contribution to their sizeable catalogue.

Then Comes Silence – Blood

There might be a real goth rock revival going on this year and Swedish band Then Comes Silence joins the retro rollercoaster flirting with all things dark on the fourth full length “Blood”.

“The Dead Cry For No One” feels moody and extremely gloomy in proper goth fashion with spacey darkened guitar melodies that soon pick up a charming retro groove tied to an extremely catchy chorus. Immediately all these charismatic dark tonalities remind of many unforgettable ‘80s goth rock bands such as Joy Division and Sisters Of Mercy, yet Then Comes Silence does hold a personal identity.

“Strange Kicks” follows the same beloved music pathway packing all possible dark vibes in the groovy guitar riffs and drum beats further enhanced by vocalist/songwriter Alex Svenson’s charming vocal delivery.

“My Bones” feels cold and nightmarish with low whispered vocals and hypnotizing melodic guitars surrounded by absolutely entertaining spooky synth layers and the whole catchy dark rock galore prepares you for the last macabre dance party before a certain downfall.

The theatrical track “Choose Your Poison” will make you space out with an overload of trippy slow guitars and dreamy atmospheric arrangements in a love & death scenario.

“Good Friday’ continues to channel all the vintage goth elements we always loved and generates a steady melodic crescendo with attached profound atmospheric darkness and bittersweet danceable grooves.

“Warm Like Blood” offers loveable decadent atmospheric waves with the right dosage of gloomy romance and vocals acquire a surreal darkened energy in the chorus.

It would be really hard to resist the vintage goth rock / dark wave/post-punk flavors of “Blood” as every lascivious melody here is meant to spellbind the listeners and trap them forever in this darkened nostalgic limbo.

Comeback Kid – Outsider

After signing a record deal with Nuclear Blast Canadian hardcore/punk outfit Comeback Kid returns to the metal scene with renewed energy and a promising brand new music venture, number six in the band’s extensive career, entitled “Outsider”.

The title track is all about high impact loud guitar riffs that never cease to build a groovy memorable rhythm with some ‘90s hardcore flavors that naturally shape the catchy inflamed chorus.

“Surrender Control” relies on chunky bass lines that contribute to the creation of a cohesive groovy rhythmic backbone and Comeback Kid adds a generous dosage of radio friendly melodies in the polished, inevitably less aggressive, chorus.

Featuring mastermind Devin Townsend “Absolute” could have been more impressive in terms of songwriting and style nevertheless confidently delivers a vicious hardcore/thrash guitar driven heavy core with extra darkened vibes.

“Somewhere, Somehow” blends easy rock choruses with a thunderous series of heavy faster hardcore guitar riffs that support both modern style screams and clean accessible vocals.

Featuring Chris Cresswell “Consumed The Vision” favors somber guitar melodies sacrificing a bit of wild hardcore spirit to produce a widely accessible track that again focuses on memorable big choruses.

Building pleasant gloomy & softer atmospheres “Moment In Time” features guest vocalist Northcote but also doesn’t refrain from delivering contrasting heavy guitar progressions that relentlessly speed up the tempo and amplify the usual hardcore scenario.

Comeback Kid carefully maintains a traditional hardcore impact focusing on energetic blasts that might become predictable at times nevertheless such soaring dynamics become signature elements of the songs structure on “Outsider” and definitely will not go unnoticed.