Members Of Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Fozzy, Aerosmith, Steel Panther, Opeth, Manowar, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry & More Offering Up Rare/Autographed Memorabilia For Sale Via Heavy Metal Truants II Charity Auction + All Profits To Be Donated To Teenage Cancer Trust, Childline, & Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy; Auction Open Now Until Further Notice

The Heavy Metal Truants charity fundraiser is back, via a super cool fundraiser on eBay.com featuring tons of signed merch, including an electric guitar signed by all current members of Metallica, a mounted drumskin signed by Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, a platinum disc set of Aerosmith’s 1989 album "Pump", and an Orange amp signed by the likes of Steel Panther, Alter Bridge, Chris Jericho, Opeth, and more. All proceeds will be split and donated to Teenage Cancer Trust, Childline, and Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. More items could be up for sale as publicity goes, but this is a solid collection. You can check it out here; http://www.ebay.co.uk/cln/teamrockcharity/TEAMROCK-MONSTER-ROCK-AUCTION/113360378014. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to snag some sweet stuff for yourself.

ALBUM REVIEWS!; New Music From Sacrocurse, Swine Overlord, He Is Legend, Dying Out Flame, Dictated, Opeth, Thousand Foot Krutch, Sea Of Bones, Circle II Circle, Along Came A Spider, Bastard Sapling, Machinae Supremacy; August 28th 2014

HOLA EVERYONE!

Last week of summer for many. This week we’re finishing the summer off with new stuff from Dictated, Sacrocurse, Bastard Sapling, He Is Legend, Thousand Foot Krutch, and more! Plus a cool Indian/Nepal music-tech death fusion album, in the form of Dying Out Flame’s latest "Shiva Rudrastakam", and the first live album from Circle II Circle, entitled “Live At Wacken (Official Bootleg)”.

And finally, one of the most anticipated albums of the year; "Pale Communion" by Opeth. The reaction has been mixed, but I’ll proudly say now that I think "Pale Communion" is easily their best work yet, and that when Mikael Åkerfeld said 'I think most metal fans just want their Happy Meals served to them', he was right. This isn’t death metal anymore guys, deal with it.

Anyways, enjoy \m/

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"Unholier Master" by Sacrocurse

Black Metal

Released August 19th 2014

     Black metal in its early days was a primal force, a true power that nobody could, or rather wanted to, comprehend. “Unholier Master” takes the genre all the way back to those early days, with an incredibly raw, static-heavy sound mix that brings to mind a fucked up concoction of Burzum’s early work and the scratchy production style of “Reek Of Putrefaction”-era Carcass. Some Inquisition influence can be found splattered, but the guitar work isn’t quite as sharp, which brings us to the first issue; the music ultimately is un-interesting. I admire the insanely old-school approach, but musically the album doesn’t stray far from low gutturals, blast beats, and super fast grainy guitar work, and it’s a bit of a bummer considering the advances we’ve seen in black metal. Still, that doesn’t mean its bad. There are plenty of noteworthy moments, like the sudden groove-centric riffs of ‘C.O.N.V.U.L.S.E.’, or the pure death metal fusion of ‘Ripping Death Solution’, and the album as a whole is certainly entertaining if you’re down for old-school black metal. The sound mix, as noted before, is still the biggest highlight, as it perfectly captures that ritualistic and low-tech sound that helped define the genre in its earliest days. Here’s hoping Sacrocurse can expand on that in the future.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Parables Of Umbral Transcence" by Swine Overlord

Death Metal

Released August 19th 2014

     Swine Overlord stands for a lot of what I hate about modern extreme metal. They’re repetitive, they’re bland, and just plain ugly. With a fusion sound of deathcore and brutal death metal, they’re a step above the likes of Devourment or Six Feet Under in terms of execution and originality, but that hardly makes them an interesting band, especially with some truly awful guttural vocals. No really. Vocalist Devin Alford, also the drummer, sounds like he’s actually belching into the microphone almsot all the time, and is an illegible mess, with the only recognizable sounds coming out being ‘uggh’, ‘bru’, and ‘bluuuuu’. Instrumentally the album is okay, but  is stuffed with some really unnecessary breakdowns (infact, the entirety of ‘Transformation & Rebirth’ is basically just second-rate Suffokate breakdowns) and mixed with into a drudgy, low-end mess. There are brief spots where Swine Overlord uses samples and off-key bass riffs to convince you that they’re technical, but it almost never works, and all guest performers get lost in the muddy sound mix and do nothing to stand out amongst the mess of generic death metal. You won’t be missing anything if you decide to skip out on this, as there really isn’t anything here I can recommend unless your standards for deathcore and death metal are REALLY low.

Rating: 1/5 (Terrible)

"Heavy Fruit" by He Is Legend

Stoner Rock/Progressive Rock

Released August 19th 2014

     He Is Legend aren’t playing a super different style, infact its quite similar to the likes of Mastodon with a bit of Red Fang, but they’re playing a damn good one, with heavy blues-oriented melody, delicious stoner rock riffs, and big fat doomy beats. “Heavy Fruit” displays all of that at the forefront, whether it be through the trippy slow prodding metal of ‘Miserable Company’, the mellow harmonies and hooks of ‘Beethozart’, or the huge sludgy riff and gang vocal dynamic of ‘I Sleep Just Fine’. If you love big clean vocals, “Heavy Fruit” will IMMEDIATELY become a favourite, as every hook has multiple layers to it, and all of them hit hard. They pair incredibly well with the soft, progressive guitar-work as well, and the bass work and percussion follows suit with deep sludgy rhythms and tones. Lyrically the album deals with simple introspective ideals, but it fits the music well, and is genuinely effective thanks to the naturally soft tones of the music. I guess my only real problem is that ultimately, this album isn’t really super unique in concept, as all songs are typically moving at the same pace and offer the same ideas. With that aside though, “Heavy Fruit” is nonetheless an incredibly catchy and entertaining work, and a nice breath of fresh air that stands out amongst the smoke-heavy prog and stoner rock commonly offered.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

"Shiva Rudrastakam" by Dying Out Flame

Technical Death Metal

     We’ve seen metal fused with Taiwanese music, in the form of ChthoniC, Egyptian music, in the form of Nile, and Japanese music, in the form of BabyMetal, but Indian and Nepal music might be new for the genre, at least as far as I’m aware of. Thankfully, “Shiva Rudrastakam” took the smart move and opted to make their outside influence significantly more subtle than some of the acts listed above, often saving it for intro’s, and outro’s, and letting it root deep within chords and riffs. The title track is a great example, opening on chants before diving into a vicious death metal riff, as does ‘Maiasura Maridini’, open on flow-heavy chants with an electric guitar line and ambient cymbals before diving into an amazing Gorguts-esque riff. It seems and sounds like a gimmick, but it works, especially with the verocity of the music, with some particularly powerful deathgrind influenced drumming and some great guitar and bass interplay. Vocals are strong as well, and I believe are sung in Dying Out Flame’s native tongue, another smart move, as it reinforces the themes and influences of the music. A friend of mine made some Nile comparisons, and I can picture other people making that comparison, but I don’t see that as a flaw, especially with a sound as tough and hearty as this. From start to finish, “Shiva Rudrastakam” is heavy, mysterious, and wildly spiritual in its softest moments, and I hope we get to hear more of that from Dying Out Flame in the near future.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"The Deceived" by Dictated

Death Metal

Released August 19th 2014

     Dictated play a pretty standard mix of modern death metal, with fast riffs, fast drums, and plenty of gutturals and…. that’s about it. There is so little to say about this band that its almost sad, as these guys pummel out the same riffs over and over, avoid melody and tech at all costs, and simply rage. It’s just not interesting, and nothing stands out. Take ‘No Mercy For Cowards’ for example, settling on a slow brooding riff and continuing with it for 4 minutes, the The Black Dahlia Murder-copycat act of ‘This Is To All’, or the chunky modern death of ‘Stonebreakers Rising’. You’ve heard these riffs before, you’ve heard these lyrics before, you’ve heard these beats before, and Dictated isn’t doing anything interesting with them.  Even the cover is average at best, depicting a man on his knees with a bunch of strange shadow-like figures circulating him. “The Deceived” is boring death metal, period, with no twists or turns to keep the momentum going, and no tricks to keep things going. If Dictated keeps up at this pace, they’ll be forgotten in no time at all.

Rating: 1.5/5 (Bad)

"Pale Communion" by Opeth

Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion

Released August 26th 2014

     I think it’s already quite clear that if you don’t like “Heritage”, and you don’t like the more traditional vein of progressive rock and metal, you will not like “Pale Communion”, and you should stop reading now. For those of you who are actually open minded, you’ll be happy to know that when Metal Injection said that this was Opeth’s best album to date, they were right. It’s diverse, it’s catchy, it’s intricate, and at times, it’s powerfully emotional. Heavily inspired by the likes of Yes, Genesis, and Porcupine Tree (you can thank producer Steve Wilson for the latter), “Pale Communion” is completely unpredictable, opening on a huge flurry of keyboards, jazzy drums, and hard rock guitars, before evolving into a soft flute-oriented piece and then back into a huge prog rock romp. The rest of the album follows suit, with the ‘Gates Of Bablyon’-esque grandeur of ‘Cusp Of Eternity’, the eerie sweeping melodies of ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’, the stunning symphonics of ‘Elysian Woes’, and the heartland rock-inspired riffery of ‘River’. Jazz isn’t as prominent here as it was on “Heritage”, but still important to the dynamic of the album, as is Mikael’s entirely clean vocal range, which for the record, is wonderful. Of course, he isn’t the only star here; the entire band is fantastic, particularly whoever handled keyboards and flutes, and producer Steve Wilson’s guidance leads to so many great melodies, riffs, and atmospheric passages. This is an incredible evolutionary step for Opeth, and the purist fans can be as pissy as they want. Here, Opeth takes the chance to do something completely new for them, and they succeed, and have created what might be one of the best prog rock albums in a long fucking time.

Rating: 5/5 (Perfect!)

"Oxygen: Inhale" by Thousand Foot Krutch

Hard Rock/Pop Rock

Released August 26th 2014

     Everyone’s least favourite Canadian Christian rock band is back, and with “Oxygen: Inhale”, they’re pumping the same rap-infused cock rock that they’ve pumped since the dawn of time, and now it’s got much less bite to it. Yay. But hey, let’s be fair and ask, what does this band do right? Well, on “Oygen: Inhale” there are a few cool things going on strangely enough. ‘Born This Way’, despite its wickedly generic and stupid lyrics, has a super sweet hard rock riff and a decent hook , and ‘Give It To Me’ has the groove and dynamic of Metallica’s ‘Devil’s Dance’, and ‘Light Up’ is actually a kind-of sweet soft rock song that fit in well at a wedding or something like that. With that in mind, I also still like Trevor McNevan as a vocalist, as he has a great control of his voice, ranging from big hard rock belts to softer, more modern R&B vocal stylings. His lyrics however are a different story, often lyrics of love, self-respect, and of course, faith. We get it. You’re Christian. You don’t have to remind of Trevor. The tracks as well are all ultimately generic, all settling on 4 chord formats with a simple riff, acoustic pieces, and a few keyboard spots, and ‘Untraveled Road’ sounds a little bit too much like an un-released Linkin Park song. The album’s biggest blow though is the utter loss in momentum near the end, as ALL 4 tracks are slow ballad numbers and each one is slower than the last. Bringing the albums mostly rock base to a complete halt. If you’re ok with mainstream radio rock, this is right up your alley. The rest of will steer clear of Thousand Foot Krutch, as usual.

Rating: 2/5 (Poor)

"The Earth Wants Us Dead" (Re-Release) by Sea Of Bones

Doom Metal/Sludge Metal

Released August 26th 2014

     This record actually came out LAST year, but hey, it just got a vinyl re-release so I figured it was a good excuse to take a look at the wicked heavy “The Earth Wants Us Dead”, a fucking hammer to the face filled with sludge, doom, death, and all-around dread. It’s seriously heavy. A droning affair at its core, “The Earth Wants Us Dead is an incredibly slow piece from start to finish, with tons of fiery riffs and ambient guitar static scattered around, from the prodding Alice In Chains riffs of ‘Black Arm’, the massive atmospheric doom of ‘Failure Of Light’, and the post-metal/sludge fusion of ‘The Bridge’. You can practically feel the smoke coming off like a ritual, as riffs drop, bass plunges, and drums pound with the sincere force of an ape, with huge gutturals and shouts bellowing over top, commanding the forefront with subtle harmonies floating in the back from time to time. Everything comes together in one huge crushing mix, and while the pace will be grating to some, the album can still keep your attention simply based on its atmospheric focus and absolutely brutal execution. I’m not sure whether or not this re-release actually adds anything new to the original album, like an extra track or something along those lines, but “The Earth Wants Us Dead” is strong enough on its own to recommend even without bonuses, and an amazing album for completely tripping out to.

Rating: 4/5 (Great!)

"Live At Wacken (Official Bootleg)" by Circle II Circle

Heavy Metal/Progressive Metal

Released August 26th 2014

     Don’t let the confusing name fool you, this is indeed a Circle II Circle live album, and its official, and coincidentally, it’s also their very first. While I’ve also considered them to be a lesser version of Savatage, and not just because former vocalist Zak Stevens in the group, their material translates decently well live, but does reveal some flaws in their sound. Zak for example, has lost some of his edge as a vocalist, notably on the lower-range verses of songs like ‘The Wake Of Magellan’, and while that by no means makes him bad, it does hurt when the band is so focused on his vocals. Instrumentally the album is solid, with some great atmospheric work on ‘The Ocean/Welcome’, which sets the tone for the whole album really, but there’s a genuine lack of Circle II Circle material. Infact, a lot of material is pulled from Savatage’s “The Wake Of Magellan”, and it comes across as pandering, as if Zak is trying to remind the audience that at some point, he was in Savatage (and his live banter in between tracks, where he DIRECTLY references Savatage, does not help). Still, Circle II Circle stands as a very solid live album despite a few hiccups, but I’d recommend it moreso for Savatage fans, and not so much Circle II Circle fans.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Resurgence" by Along Came A Spider

Post-Hardcore/Metalcore

Released August 26th 2014

     Where “Resurgence” suffers, is not just in its inability to come up with an original idea, but also how fucking fast it moves, and I don’t mean speed; the pacing of the record is wild, with ‘All Gods’ opening on a decent, chunky metalcore riff, but a mere seconds later, we’ve launched into a hook, then directly back to the verse, then hook again. It’s very 4/4 basic rock writing, but with metalcore splashed on top, and it’s a downer. While the music is far from original, it’s still pretty decent, and its emphasis would be greater if the band slowed down a little. ‘Inside The Kill Room’ is very much the same, fast to move from one hook to the next hook, but that track succeeds thanks to some VERY well produced guitar work, and a spot from In Fear & Faith’s own Scott Barnes. Of course, the records overly consistent use of post-hardcore and metalcore tropes is a bummer as well, and the result is a record that a lot of you will feel you’ve heard before. Of course, if you’re a fan of post-hardcore, this won’t be a problem, and there’s still some stuff to get into. Vocals for the most part are really solid, and there are plenty of great groove-oriented riffs that help pick things up big time, particularly ‘No Laws’ and ‘A Link To The Past’, and it stands out from the standard chugs we commonly hear from the genre. While “Resurgence” certainly doesn’t break new ground, its flaws don’t prevent it from being a decent record, especially if you’re a fan of post-hardcore.

Rating: 3/5 (Decent)

"Instinct Is Forever" by Bastard Sapling

Black Metal

Released August 26th 2014

     Right out of the gates, this album gives you a damn good idea as to what the fuck it’s up to. It screams, ‘this is Bastard Sapling, fucking deal with it’, grabbing by the throat and shaking you like a rag doll. These guys have an epic side to their black metal, borrowing from the genre’s grander and more atmospheric styles as well as thrash and speed metal to create a ferocious sound displayed by the Lightning Swords Of Death meets Satyricon fire of ‘My Spine Will Be My Noose’, the Watain-like rushed riffery of ‘Subterranean Rivers Of Blood’, and the cold, icy assaults of ‘Forbidden Sorrow’. The album manages to pack a lot of emotion and grand ideas in its execution, and you can thank the music almost entirely for that, as the riffs are dark, heavy, brooding, and the rhythm work that follows fills every available noise with cymbals, bass, snare, and enough prodding beats to drown a man alive. Vocals in particular are a huge highlight, opting for tons of high controlled shrieks that have the fire and ferocity of a fucking monster, and Bastard Sapling makes the smart move of opting for a cleaner sound mix, letting every epic note shine through. “Instinct Is Forever” is a grand and ultimate behemoth, one that takes all the best bits of the black and extreme metal genre and fine-tunes it to create one epic beast.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Incredible!)

"Phantom Shadow" by Machinae Supremacy

Power Metal/Pop Metal

Released August 26th 2014

     If we’re being honest, I have no idea what to think of this band. They have some good ideas, with a fusion of power metal, pop, and even chiptune at some times (not joking), but the execution is sloppy and silly, and instead brings to mind the over-produced tripe of Amaranthe. There’s a concept underneath it all, but quite honestly, I can’t figure it out, which is a problem seeing as how I’m not the only one (New Noise Magazine also seem confused by the concept), and as noted before, I’ve still got mixed ideas on the music. I’ve never heard of these guys before, but from what I’ve seen, they refer to themselves as ‘SID metal’ which refers to the SID chip from a Commodore 64. Appropriately enough, the style is a fusion of chiptune and metal, and when the chiptune elements come through, the album is a cheese-stuffed joy, take for example the catchy fluff of ‘Beyond Good & Evil’ or the Anamanaguchi-styled rock of ‘The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall’. Sometimes the pop and power metal influence overshadows that though, and the results are less desirable, especially in the vocal and lyrical department. Guitar work can be pretty cool from time to time, but nothing above average speed metal riffs and gallops, and the concept still makes this a confusing record. Machinae Supremacy has some good ideas, but they all get jumbled together into the mix and the resulting sound is ambitious, but extremely cheesy and grin-inducing, and not in a good way. Still, I imagine if you already like this band, then “Phantom Shadow” wouldn’t change your mind.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Mediocre) 

"Visions In My Head" by Obituary

THE WAIT IS OVER IS FINALLY OVER LADIES AND GENTS! Obituary is not only back in full force, but we’ve FINALLY heard the first bit of new material from their upcoming crowd-funded album “Inked In Blood”, their first album in half a decade. “Visions In My Head” is a dark, gnarly, punk-fueled ripper, with industrial/groove-ish drums, a banging riff, and all the lyrical gore and violence that you’d expect from death metal, before delving into an awesome acoustic section coupled with a great guitar solo. The chorus is particular is actually REALLY catchy, and will likely be stuck in your head for some time. As far as I’m concerned, the wait was worth it.

"Inked In Blood" comes out October 28th via Relapse Records. In support of the album, Obituary will tour North America extensively this fall, first with the likes of Carcass, Exhumed, and Noisem, and then with Death To All, Massacre, and Rivers Of Nihil. Fucking sweet.

At The Gates, Destruction, Borknagar, Decapitated, Cryptopsy, Dark Funeral, Asphyx, Rotting Christ, Vallenfyre, Sarke & More Announced To Perform @ Blastfest 2015 + 20 More Bands Expected For Announcement; Scheduled To Run February 19th - 21st 2015 In Bergen, Norway Across Multiple Venues + Tickets On Sale Now

Fucking Norway, you lucky mother fucker. Blastfest 2015 is fast approaching and they’ve now unveiled their initial line-up, featuring the likes of Destruction, Borknagar, Dark Funeral, Rotting Christ, Sarke, Decapitated, Cryptopsy, Asphyx, Samael, VallenfyreDeströyer 666, and more, with At The Gates slated to headline, presumably alongside 2 other un-confirmed bands. Apparently the festival will also feature stand-up comedy, clinics, and a tattoo convention, so its basically one big party for metalheads all over. On top of THAT, MetalSucks.net has confirmed that 20 more bands will be announced within the coming weeks. So yeah, its gonna be fucking sweet. Blastfest 2015 goes down February 19th to 21st in Bergen, Norway across multiple venues, and tickets are on sale right now, right here; http://www.blastfest.no/

"So Low" by Pitch Black Forecast feat. Randy Blythe

YAY! Supergroups! Pitch Black Forecast, led by the likes of Mushroomhead frontman Jason Popson and Testament/Dethklok drummer Gene Holgan, is making its way back with “As The World Burns”, a collection of re-takes, remixes, and un-released tracks collected from their previous works, and this little number features ANOTHER super cool and awesome name; Lamb Of God’s very own Randy Blythe. The result is a great groove metal number that coincidentally channels Lamb Of God’s abrasive energy and thrash-like attitude. Definitely a cool peak as to what lies next for Pitch Black Forecast.

"As The World Burns" is set for release October 21st via Ferocious Records, and will feature even MORE guests, including Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows, Ringworm frontman Human Furnace, and the one and only Devin Townsend. Should be pretty sweet eh?

"The Devil In I" by Slipknot

Only a few weeks since the release of “The Negative One”, Slipknot is already storming back with “The Devil In I”, the second new track from Slipknot’s upcoming studio album, with this one resembling the more intricate material we heard on “Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses” with some heavy Pantera influence in the pre-chorus and chorus, and a metalcore hook. While I liked the muddy production of “The Negative One”, its nice to hear something a little cleaner and more groove-oriented. The track makes a strange turn for black metal at one point with super fast riffs and percussion. Definitely a good sign of whats to come.

"The Devil In I" will be featured on Slipknot’s upcoming un-titled record, their first without the late Paul Gray and Scar The Martyr drummer Joey Jordison, and will be released later this year via Roadrunner Records. Until then, you can catch Slipknot later this year at Knotfest Japan, with the likes of Lamb Of God, In Flames, and Korn, and then again at Knotfest U.S.A. with the likes of Testament, Anthrax, Carcass, and Suicide Silence.

Epica, Kataklysm, Aborted, Belphegor, Alestorm, Septicflesh, Terminatryx, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mind Assault, Bleeding Spawn, Bile Of Man & More Annoucned To Perform @ Witchfest 2015 + More Bands + Additional Headliner Expected For Announcement; Scheduled To Run April 02nd - 06th 2015 In Pretoria, South Africa @ Wolmer Bush Longue + Tickets On Sale September 16th 2014

The line-up for South Africa’s own Witchfest 2015 just got bigger with the addition of Epica, Kataklysm, and Aborted to the ranks, alongside other great metal bands such as Belphegor, Alestorm, Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Terminatryx, Bile Of Man, Theatre Runs Red, Mind Assualt, Bleeding Spawn, Maximum Carnage, Sacrifist, and more. According to festival runners Witchdoctor Productions there is still more to come though, stating ‘And thats not all folks … Witchdoctor Productions will still be announcing even more international acts soon, so watch this space!’Witchfest 2015 goes down April 02nd to April 06th 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa at the Wolmer Bush Longue, and tickets go on sale September 16th 2014 at the festival’s official website.

"Stars" by Sixx: A.M.

Hey guys, remember Sixx: A.M.? The guys who made the STELLAR “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack”? Well it seems they finally got tired of simply TALKING about new music, and instead, finally released some. This supergroup, featuring Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, Guns N’ Roses/ex-BulletBoys guitarist DJ Ashba, producer James Michael, and now, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, have teased new stuff in the form of “Stars”, the second single from their upcoming third studio album “Modern Vintage”. Compared to the debut single "Gotta Get It Right", its a banger; the chorus is massive, the solo is frantic with a very glam metal feel, and James Michael’s vocals soar. It still doesn’t measure up to anything from "The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack", but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

"Modern Vintage" is set for release October 07th via Eleven Seven Music. Sixx: A.M. doesn’t plan to tour, but you can catch Nikki Sixx on what will supposedly be Mötley Crüe’s final tour right now, alongside shock rock god Alice Cooper

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