It’s a rare band that starts off extreme, gets a chance to keep it going on a big label, and retains the things that made them special in the first place across the years. It’s even less common when you go all the way back to the beginning, to the earliest days of extreme metal; bands went goth, prog, garage rock, groove, djent, or just outright lost their passion as trends came and went around them.
Not all paths lead to the same destination. Despite a gamut of bands and a relatively limited span of years as the primary influence for an entire genre, heavy metal has managed to cover an amazing amount of sonic ground, and even albums that on paper tick a lot of the same boxes as less-talented peers can stand out stylistically. Blazon Rite are really proof of this, and manage in a crowded scene to do their own thing without really diverging at all from a core sound rooted in powerful, energetic epic heavy metal.
Pennsylvanian heavy metal heroes Pharaoh are the essence of consistency. Despite a history going back nearly 25 years, they’ve had the same lineup since finding singer Tim Aymar (ex-Control Denied / ex-Psycho Scream) in 1998, have been on Cruz del Sur Music since their first album in 2003, have had the same guest soloist, Jim Dofka, on every album, and have been excellent the whole time.
Despite a bevy of new heavy metal bands across the last couple of decades, there has never been a particularly strong predilection in any scene towards the classic Swedish heavy metal scene from the ‘80s. Bands like Heavy Load and Gotham City are seen as titans of heavy metal, and it’s hard to escape patches and shirts from both at any festival like Keep it True or Frost and Fire—but there aren’t many contemporary bands running with that sound, with most preferring other niches, like USPM revivalism, epic heavy metal, or Maiden clonery. Sure, there are bands here and there doing that kind of thing, but most of them aren’t very good and there are not a ton around in the first place.
It’s tough to understate the importance that The Lord Weird Slough Feg (shortened for most of the article, and much of the band’s career, as just Slough Feg) has had on my life musically. Back in my freshman year of college, they personally got me into heavy metal; I was coming off a high school length obsession with extremity that had me ignoring anything with actual singing, and outside of the isolated Maiden or Sabbath songs that I grew up with I mostly just ignored heavy metal altogether.
One of the most exciting recent bands for me that I’ve had the chance to watch grow since day one has been England’s Heavy Sentence. I grabbed the original Protector / Darkest Hour 7″ as a blind buy on a friend’s recommendation and fell in love; melodic leads, gruff vocals, and swaggering riffs combined well to give something equal parts NWOBHM, punk, and Motörhead, almost like if Midnight’s more recent stuff had a bit less Venom and a tiny bit more Tokyo Blade in its DNA. Read the full article at Invisible Oranges: https://www.invisibleoranges.com/entering-the-underground-8-heavy-sentence/
Cirith Ungol’s 2015 reformation was one of the least-likely in underground metal history. The band broke up in 1992 so explosively and with so much internal despair that Rob Garven, the band’s drummer, famously announced that he would never again touch another kit, and vocalist Tim Baker would step back from singing seemingly forever. The band seemed as conclusively finished as could be, though guitarist Greg Lindstrom kept the fire alive via a post-Cirith Ungol band called Falcon that re-recorded a few old Cirith Ungol demo tunes to little greater success. To the world’s shock, the band’s current bassist Jarvis Leatherby (formerly known as Jeff Hershey) was able to convince the band that the world wanted them back after years of trying, and in 2015, after a long absence, they decided it was time to make a reunion happen.
Though Entierro have been around for some ten years now (some of it as Treebeard earlier on), I’d never heard of them until I was told about a cool new heavy metal short-length with Victor Arduini (Arduini/Balich, ex-Fates Warning) coming out in a few weeks. Almost everything Victor has done has been nothing short of gold, particularly with Fates Warning (which remains an all-time favorite band of mine, and is one of the finest heavy metal outfits to ever exist) and Arduini/Balich, so it stands to reason that Entierro’s new material would be cool too.
Formed originally in Chicago in 1997, Cardiac Arrest have been terrifying audiences since before half of the current wave of death metal bands were alive, always as stalwartly untrendy as they were fierce and uncompromising. Haven for the Insane in particular should appeal to fans of Autopsy, Funebrarum, Impetigo, and Master. Listen here: BANDCAMP Buy here: NGR Store
Many of the roots of Japanese death metal go back to one man: Takashi Tanaka. Instrumental both to the legendary Transgressor and involved with cult death/thrashers Necrophile, Takashi has been making extreme music since the tail end of the 1980s. With hours of music between his various bands since then, it’s clear that his love for the macabre has never stopped.