The Cult Metal Classics label is known for digging up past metal jewels and re-releasing them. Most of them are from the 80’s and here we have a new band and a new album from this label and I gotta tell you: if Steelwitch were an 80’s band this EP would be considered a stone cold classic and they’d be straight to the top of this label roster.
As heavy metal grew in Spain during the 1980s, metal bands appeared in all regions of the country. In the midst of this explosion, on the 14th of August 1988, a new act by the name of Su Ta Gar played their first concert in the small village of Ondarru. Unlike their regional peers, they sung completely in Euskera (Basque). While this might not seem like a big deal, heavy metal there had always been delivered in Spanish to achieve the widest appeal possible. Euskera was reserved for the punk-influenced acts of the Basque radical rock scene. They were received with thunderous support and this was the spark that would push them forward, not knowing the legacy they were about to create.
There aren’t a ton of doom metal bands more revered than Saint Vitus, and it is for good reason. Of Black Sabbath’s disciples in the 80’s, they are perhaps the most honest and soulful of the bunch, if not exactly a 1:1 copy of the original masters. Rather, what Vitus did is that they applied the atonality, loose song structure, and just pure griminess of American punk to the emerging doom metal format at a time in the 80’s when the early bands were forging their own styles and defining the subgenre on their own terms.
Something that people in underground metal circles love to do is to trace back the sound of a new band to find the origins of influences. What lies at the root is Black Sabbath if you go back enough but the trace lines at this point have branched out so wide that the full map of modern underground metal would be represented with no less than a forest. A particular branch that we are interested in here is the one that goes from ‘80s metal to Mortuary Drape, then to more extreme acts such as Cultes des Ghoules, Spite, or in today’s case, Ljosazabojstwa.
Satan’s Hallow made quite a mark in the underground with its blistering speed metal anthems, but sadly was put to rest after only one album since one of their guitarists and main songwriter left. Chicago’s Midnight Dice are the spiritual successors and have to live with some expectations! Anything with Mandy Martillo is worth your time though.
After an impressive demo, Los Angeles’s epic doom juggernaut Stygian Crown is bringing the thunder on a new full-length album. And some high-class retro thunder is what they do indeed bring on their debut for a well-chosen label Cruz Del Sur. This seems to be the year and the season for top shelf female fronted doom.
The winds of a city howl and have called forth the entrance of a new entity: Fer de Lance. Formed by current members of Smoulder and Moros Nyx, a different brand of epic doom has appeared on the horizon.
People like to point the finger at Candlemass as being the originator of the idea of epic doom metal as being “slowed down power metal”. This isn’t entirely unfair since, y’know… they were the band who got the band rolling on the subgenre to start with. That being said, I’d argue that it’s more generally applicable to Solitude Aeturnus a bit more than the Swedish band.
In 1986 Fates Warning released Awaken the Guardian. This incredible album set a new foundation as well as a new boundary for the very new, exploding, and exciting progressive approach to metal. It was imaginative and provides to this day a great piece of musical escapism. The next year, near Milan, a few teenage friends would spend their time, as did countless other bands, covering songs by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Queensrÿche and generally honing their musical skills. At one point they had enough of covers.