It’s pretty widely agreed upon that traditional metal was in its prime during the 80s, with relatively massive, mainstream appeal. While traditional metal is most certainly no longer in its heyday, there has been a recent revival of the sound in the past decade that has led some to call it the “New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal”. There has been a huge influx of bands in this style and it seems like each year this is only growing. With the sheer density of high quality releases, 2019 is well on track to be perhaps the best year for traditional heavy metal since the 80s. Let’s hit pause and take a look at the best releases of the first 3 months!
Full Length Albums
Bible of the Devil – Feel It
Breaking a long seven year silence, Bible of the Devil bring us a brand new album! Feel it is also the band’s seventh album, and by this point Bible of the Devil have figured out what works for them. This hard-rock infused take on metal brings to mind bands like Thin Lizzy, Slough Feg, and Argus just to name a few. It’s an easy going album with plenty of feel good vibes, don’t pass this one up!
Booze Control – Forgotten Lands
Germany’s Booze Control are back again for their fourth studio album. If you’ve ever heard the band before, then you know exactly what you’re going to get. Booze Control combine a mix of old school influences that range from the NWOBHM, power metal, Swedish metal, and more. Forgotten Lands finds Booze Control leaning further in the power metal direction than before, but if you enjoy bands like Iron Maiden, Enforcer, and Steelwing then you’ll enjoy this.
Haunt – If Icarus Could Fly
Riding the high from a very successful tour with Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust, Haunt are one of the fastest growing bands in the NWOTHM. Just one listen will make it clear why – it’s a relaxing, but high quality approach to traditional metal that brings to mind bands like Angel Witch, Sumerlands, and Ozzy Osbourne. Originally formed as a solo band by Trevor William Church, these guys are songwriting machines; this is the band’s this major release in under one year with at least one more coming in 2019. If Icarus Could Fly is the bands best material since their debut EP Luminous Eyes and if you liked any of Haunt’s previous material at all, then this is certainly worth the listen.
Iron Griffin – Curse of the Sky
Read Rhandgar’s full review here.
Originally started as a creative outlet for Mausoleum Gate drummer Oskari Räsänen, Iron Griffin is now a full fledged band and their debut offering is stellar. Drawing from the 70s proto-metal well of bands like Wishbone Ash and Jethro Tull, Curse of the Sky is a refreshing take on epic heavy metal where the aim is for a calm, but grandiose sound. Iron Griffin’s previous EP featured Tony Pentikainen on vocals, but this time around Oskari enlisted the help of vocalist Maija Tiljander whose powerful pipes carry this album forward – there’s a reason we featured her in our women’s day article!
Magic Circle – Departed Souls
With two strong albums already under their belt, Magic Circle were already one of the premiere new-era doom metal bands. The band’s third and most recent effort, Departed Souls, keeps the bar set high. This time around Magic Circle have opted for a throwback sound, taking heavy influence from Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Pagan Altar’s Judgement of the Dead/Volume 1. While not as immediately gripping and heavy as their previous efforts, Departed Souls is a strong album that is certain to grow on you. It’s a must for doom metal fans!
Magnabolt – Magnabolt
Read Marco’s full review of it here.
Every once in a while, a band will come out of absolutely nowhere and just completely wow you. With virtually no promotion and no demo material, Magnabolt fit this bill perfectly. They’re intent on bringing us back to the glory days of US power metal with hard hitting riffs and neoclassical shred that immediately brings to mind Helstar’s Nosferatu. Fans of this style will not be disappointed in the slightest – Magnabolt’s debut is a certified banger.
Metal Inquisitor – Panopticon
Read Marco’s full review here.
Metal Inquisitor are one of Germany’s finest traditional metal bands. Formed in 1998, these guys held the banners of traditional heavy metal high during some of the genre’s roughest years. Panopticon is the band’s first album in five years, but they’ve definitely still got it. Fans of Judas Priest, Saxon, and Accept will feel right at home here.
Pounder – Uncivilized
Uncivilized is the debut album of Los Angeles based Pounder. What immediately sticks out is their rough around the edges and gritty approach to the music. Given the extreme metal pedigree of its members (Matt Harvey: Exhumed, Dekapitator, Gruesome; Tom Draper: Carcass; Alejandro Corredor: Nausea), this comes at absolutely no surprise. If you’re looking for something like Angel Witch or Diamond Head, but with a little more attitude then Pounder are right up your alley.
Sanhedrin – The Poisoner
It’s tough to find an exact comparison point for New York’s Sanhedrin. They blend elements of traditional heavy metal, doom metal, and hard rock in ways that don’t sound like the typical mix of these genres at all with only Christian Mistress as some type of comparison point. It’s a very unique approach to metal and the fact that Sanhedrin does it so well speaks volumes in itself. The Poisoner is an excellent album with huge amounts of variety and Erica Stoltz’s gruff vocals help bring it to life, landing her a spot on our women’s day feature.
Traveler – Traveler
Read Marco’s full review here.
Traveler released one hell of a demo in 2018 filled to the brim with powerful riffs, a strong rhythm section, and passionate vocals. It captured the attention of the metal underground and as they made their transition to a full length album, the big question was: would they be able to keep the same quality? The answer is absolutely yes! Traveler’s debut album is undoubtedly one of the strongest releases of 2019 and is an early contender for album of the year. If you’re a fan of up-tempo traditional metal that is influenced by the likes of Judas Priest, Brocas Helm, Omen, Riot, and more then this is the band for you!
Twisted Tower Dire – Wars in the Unknown
Read Marco’s full review here.
Twisted Tower Dire are one of the most important modern US power metal bands. They held the torch high and proud during the genre’s lowest point in time and after a seven year long silence, they’re back with their latest album: Wars in the Unknown. It’s been a long time since their last release, but Twisted Tower Dire definitely aren’t rusty and this new record holds up extremely well to the rest of the band’s discography. The signature catchy-but-riffy sound that we’ve to expect from them is here in full force. If you are a power metal fan, definitely do not miss this album!
Witchlords – Demons in the Dark
Witchlords’ debut album Demons in the Dark was released a few weeks ago and has received shamefully little attention. Drawing deeply from the well of German speed metal, they don’t hesitate at all to show their influences on their sleeves. Leaning towards the power metal side of things, Witchlords take cues from early Helloween, Blind Guardian, Running Wild, and the likes. There isn’t anything fancy here – the songs are all fairly short and to the point and the production is very much bedroom level, but that’s all part of the charm here. Riffs are ultimately what matter and Witchlords definitely have that. There aren’t a lot of bands are playing this early EUPM type of sound and it’s refreshing to see a new band try their hand at it.
Demos, Splits, Singles, and EPs
Air Raid – Demon’s Eye
Following in the footsteps of their countrymen, Air Raid are a Swedish traditional heavy metal band with a penchant for catchy vocals on top of compelling riffs. Both sides of the Demon’s Eye single are exactly what we’ve come to expect from Air Raid. If you’re a fan of bands like Enforcer, Steelwing, and Judas Priest then this release is for you!
Alpha Centauri – Return of the Herakleids
Originally recorded in 2000, Alpha Centauri’s Return of the Herakleids has finally seen its official release. This epic heavy metal project is the result of two Hellenic black metal legends working together; Eskarth the Dark One of Agatus joins forces with his brother Archon Vorskaath of Zemial to further channel their love of the more traditional side of things. These songs have been floating around in various places for years now, but it’s good to finally see their official release! Fans of bands like Manilla Road, Battleroar, and Wrathblade will especially be please by this one.
Beastmaker – Eye of the Storm
Beastmaker is a doom metal band fronted by Trevor William Church of Haunt. Although Haunt is perhaps the more familiar band, Beastmaker predate them by a few years. Beastmaker is best known for the assault of ten (!) EPs they unleashed on the world in 2018, but 2019’s Eye of the Storm is a slight departure from the band’s standard sound. The newest EP from Beastmaker explores a catchier, more melodic direction on top of the Pentagram and Black Sabbath like base.
Emblem/Ezra Brooks – Visions of Power Split
Visions of Power is a split between two young and promising epic metal bands from Canada: Emblem and Ezra Brooks. Each side of the split features a new, original song and one cover and all four tracks are killer. The cover choices alone speak volumes to the influences and tastes of the two bands. Ezra Brooks covered a Rotting Christ song and enhanced the underlying traditional metal influence of it while Emblem opted to cover Thunder Rider, a cult epic metal band from Canada.
Gatekeeper – Grey Maiden
Read Marco’s full review here. Read the interview with founding member Jeff Black here.
Slowly, but surely, Gatekeeper have been marking their territory as one of the top epic metal bands to watch. Riding the high from 2018’s debut album, East of Sun, they presented us with 2019’s Grey Maiden EP. Featuring some of their best and most varied material to date, Grey Maiden demonstrates Gatekeeper’s ability to grow and mature as a band. If you’re a fan of Atlantean Kodex, Visigoth, and Eternal Champion, then this is a must listen EP.
Mausoleum Gate – The Demon Age of Aquarius
Mausoleum Gate are one of Finland’s leading traditional metal acts. Their sound blends a mix of darker heavy metal like Mercyful Fate with the approach of 80s British metal like Angel Witch and Iron Maiden and they top it all off with a touch of 70s rock and metal influence. This time around, Mausoleum Gate have turned up that 70s worship on The Demon Age of Aquarius and the result is spectacular.
Mega Colossus – V
Formerly known as Colossus, these Americans play a galloping and upbeat take on US power metal. With quirky, bouncing riffs, nerdy lyrics, and catchy choruses, Mega Colossus make a clear appeal to fans of bands like Slough Feg and Brocas Helm.
Midnight Dice – Midnight Dice
Midnight Dice are the band formed from the ashes of the might Satan’s Hallow, whose lone, self-titled album stands as one of the best of the decade. Midnight Dice definitely had big shoes to fill. While their self titled demo doesn’t quite hit the same highs as the Satan Hallow debut, it’s still an excellent release filled with plenty of strong riffs complimented by vocalist Mandy Martillo’s amazing pipes.
Sölicitör – Demo 2019
Much like Midnight Dice above, Sölicitör is a band born out of the ashes of another recently broken up one. Succeeding Seattle’s Substratum, Sölicitör take it in a whole new and more aggressive direction. Their 2019 demo is a blistering ten minutes of pure speed metal for fans of bands like Acid and Chastain. The demo is incredibly promising and an EP from Sölicitör is expected later this year.
Source – Spelling Swords
Do you worship the King? Well whether you do or not, Source make sure as hell that they pay their respects to King Diamond. Source play a darker take on traditional heavy metal with a focus on guitar leads and high pitched vocals. The Mercyful Fate and King Diamond similarities are uncanny, but this is more than just a mere worship project. The songwriting is superb and Source are one of the best bands out there in this style, Spelling Swords just continues to prove this.
Trapped Under Ice Compilation
Released by Temple of Mystery Records, Trapped Under Ice is one of the absolute best compilations since the 80s. It features original tracks from ten of Canada’s premiere heavy metal bands. The die hard edition of this release came with ten full interviews as well. The level of dedication and sheer quality displayed by this compilation makes it a required listen.
Tyrann – Tyrann
Tyrann are a Swedish heavy metal band that are 100% intent on playing a throwback to their country’s heyday with clear influence from bands like Heavy Load and Gotham City. Their self titled single seemed to slip under most radars despite the fact that this band has members of Enforcer and Tribulation. Be sure to avoid this mistake and check it out!