Twisted Tower Dire are a band with a very special place in the annals of US power metal. They formed in 1995 and released a majority of their material in the early 2000s. This was a time in which the majority of bands were shying away from more traditional styles of heavy metal, but Twisted Tower Dire were one of the few exceptions. They’re a band known for their fast paced, dual guitars and heavy use of singalong choruses. Before they really established this iconic style of catchy, but riff-centric power metal, they released a couple of unique demos that are unlike the rest of their discography.
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.
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.
Musically, Borrowed Time broadly falls into the “epic metal” spectrum – there are obvious odes to heavy metal like the bands from early the NWOBHM (Iron Maiden, Angel Witch), but also Manilla Road and Brocas Helm. What would separate Borrowed Time from other similar acts is the strong emphasis of melody and purposefully lo-fi production in the mix.
Having been formed in 1997 as initially a studio project, Doomsword as a band was aimed at the idea of playing traditional metal in the style of the old American greats. Warlord is their biggest influence, first and foremost – the pseudonym of Deathmaster, the main songwriter of the band, is from the cover painting of the Deliver Us EP, as was the drummers on this album – as well as a strong hint of Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and viking-era Bathory mixed in. Lots of bands nowadays are influenced by those first three bands, but in the late 90s, bands playing that style did not really have a ton of traction in either the US or Europe.
In the ancient days of 1986 a mysterious band known as Lords of the Crimson Alliance would release a single album and then vanish into the night. With members boasting names such as Zan Zan, Far Cry, Cutterjon, and Grom, this 4 piece unleashed a totally unique and otherworldly slab of US power metal that would stand the test of time as one of the best releases in the genre.
Sword-and-sorcery fiction is heavily related with epic heavy metal. Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock are two of the first names a heavy metal fan might have in mind mainly because of characters like Conan the Barbarian and Elric of Melniboné.
When DMR Books started, they had this crazy idea of releasing an anthology of fantasy fiction including stories written by heavy metal musicians. Soon enough, more books followed and now we have the chance to talk with Dave Ritzlin of DMR Books about this story.
Midwestern US underground metal legends, influenced a ton of bands in trad and even a little outside of it – albeit in more modern times than in their own era – you know the drill by now.
I can still safely say that Ravening Iron is primed to be my album of the year. Eternal Champion are one of the best active bands in traditional metal right now and this is simply another testament why.