It's difficult to innovate and sound unique in the world of traditional heavy metal. This is especially true in the very small, niche genre of epic doom metal, which was both established and perfected in one fell swoop with Candlemass's Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. While Heaven Wept are a band that managed to do exactly this.
Formed at the onset of popularity of the retro thrash movement in 2005, Nekromantheon have largely outlasted and outperformed all of the bands that were their peers through the rise and fall of thrash revivalism. Targeting from the start the deeper underground and always avoiding the party-heavy themes and aesthetic that plagued their contemporaries, Nekromantheon built a cult following for their intense velocity, witching thrash mentality, and incredibly high quality over the years. Nearly a full decade after 2012’s Rise, Vulcan Spectre, Nekromantheon have returned for their third album. Visions of Trismegistos largely carries on exactly where the band left off nine years prior.
Premiere for the upcoming Erzfeynd / Celestial Sword split.
Prodigy/Oracle were a progressive power metal band from Florida - given a description like that, Crimson Glory and Savatage immediately come to mind and indeed Prodigy fit in nicely with those two. Unfortunately for the band, they were a day late and a dollar short and by the time they released their only offering, As Darkness Reigns, interest in the style had long since waned and they were relegated to relative obscurity. Luckily for die-hard fans, the internet gives us a fantastic avenue to appreciate and share bands that didn't quite make it in their own time.
Making the transition from demo or introductory EP to a full fledged debut album isn't easy. We see it time and time again - bands put out a rough around the edges release with promise and then for one reason or another don't quite live up to that promise. Luckily for us, that isn't the case here. Herzel's Unis dans la gloire demo is one of the precious few modern era traditional metal demos that has stayed in my regular rotation for years and their recently released debut album Le dernier rempart is everything I hoped for in a follow-up.
Having formed upon the date of the Summer Solstice in 1990, there is effectively one real constant with this band regardless of all the turnover that happens within their ranks. That is, Rich Walker, the guitarist and main songwriter of the band, unflinchingly delivers great metal pretty much every time the band puts music out, no matter how sporadic. It doesn’t matter if you pick any of the other full lengths or even the EPs – both Halcyon and Death’s Crown is Victory would be the highlight of a lot of other band’s careers. Still though, New Dark Age has always been the top of the heap, and for my part one of my favorite doom metal albums in general.
Mythology and metal have never been an odd match, there is a long-storied tradition of musicians from every subgenre exploring the folklore of many cultures – Norse, Egyptian, Greek to name a few. In this respect, Phaëthon is not treading new ground. However, what does make them distinct is their background. While we are accustomed to seeing delineation between traditional and extreme metal, it’s no secret that most death and black metal musicians are deeply reverent of early heavy metal pioneers and their offshoots. Phaëthon fits precisely this mold as two of the main musicians are seasoned veterans of the UK extreme underground.
By the late 80s, Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin was already a seasoned veteran vocalist with a varied resume. He had already sung on Jag Panzer’s Ample Destruction; a rough around the edges US Power Metal classic that needs no introduction. Shortly afterwards, he ventured into more occult dwellings with Satan Host’s Metal from Hell – an album that was equal parts Jag Panzer and Venom. Not one to be limited by choice, Tyrant joined Titan Force in 1987 in what proved to be a near 180 from his previous musical ventures. Titan Force represented the more melodic and progressive side of the US Power Metal spectrum, one which placed emphasis on non-linear songwriting but more importantly – strong vocal harmonies.
Like their label-mates Malokarpatan, they remind of a time right before the explosion of Norwegian black metal acts, a moment in time where black metal was not clearly defined, and it was not clear how it should sound like. It is in an environment like this that the Hungarian Tormentor could release Anno Domini, a furious, scary album about, who would have guessed, Transylvania. The way Tormentor wrote riffs, bouncing, twisted but still melodic, is one important piece of the sound of Of Sleep and Death, especially on the title track of the album. However, the melodic elements are pushed much further than what Tormentor did, it is more rooted in what Dissection did.