We are now half way through the year and what an incredible six months it has been. The bar has been raised for 2019 and there has been high quality album after high quality album. This quarter alone we to nearly 40 different releases across all types of traditional metal to highlight the best ones for you all. The winter 2019 wrap up was our first iteration of this, but we’ve changed things up this time around and involved all of RIG’s regular contributors!
How are you determining the best releases?
Last time around Marco was the only contributor scoring and determining relative album rankings, but that’s no longer the case. The new system is simple: we asked RIG’s regular contributors to rate the releases they’ve heard this quarter on a 100 point scale and the ten releases with the highest average rating are included and highlighted. The only caveat here is that the release must have ratings from at least 3 different authors to be eligible. We plan to use this format for all of our quarterly wrap ups moving forward and we’ll do the same for our album of the year article at the end of 2019.
You can find the full table of releases, ratings, and averages by each contributor at the bottom of the article.
The Top 10 Releases
Kicking off our list is Germany’s Lunar Shadow with their sophomore album The Smokeless Fires. This year’s album follows closely in the footsteps of their debut Far from Light, but still clearly demonstrates a band that is growing, evolving, and maturing. There’s still everything that we’ve come to expect from Lunar Shadow – the unbelievable leads, beautiful melodies, and black metal influence are all out in full force here. There’s a bit more in this year’s effort though. The album is more compact, there’s dashes of post-punk influence, and the tasteful use of piano all add more flair to an already unique sound. If a traditional/epic metal version of Dissection sounds like something you’d enjoy, then give this one a go!
RIG average rating: 82
(9) Vulture – Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves
Formed in 2015, Vulture have already carved themselves out quite a reputation in just four years of existence. Since day 1, Vulture have had only one thing in mind: SPEED. Vulture’s sound is all about playing very fast and very aggressively, taking heavy influence from Canadian speed metal legends Razor and Exciter. Using these two bands as a guiding light, Vulture burst out on the scene in 2017 with their blistering fast debut album titled The Guillotine. If you’ve heard their previous efforts or anything from their influences, then you know exactly what to expect with Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves. Their latest album doesn’t deviate very far from the typical thrashing speed metal mold, but it delivers exactly what you’d want from that style.
RIG average rating: 82
(8) Sölicitör – EP 2019
Keeping up with the need for speed, Sölicitör’s 2019 EP takes our number 8 slot and is the only non-full length release listed this quarter! Sölicitör are a brand new band having only formed late in 2018, but just one listen to their music makes it abundantly clear that this is not a band of amateurs and they aren’t here to play around. With former members of the recently disbanded Substratum, these scene veterans kick it up a notch with unrelenting speed metal that hints at melody. If you’re a big fan of bands like Chastain, Acid, and Liege Lord then you’re in for a big treat. This EP consists of 100% bangers and the future is very bright for this young, new band.
RIG average rating: 83
Ravensire dial the speed back compared to our previous bands and take their music in another direction. Ravensire play a deliberate style of epic heavy metal that alternates from doom laden passages to mid paced battle anthems all with Rick’s booming and gruff vocals sitting over it. This epic heavy metal quartet hail from Portugal and recently released their third studio album titled A Stone Engraved in Red. Their previous effort, 2016’s The Cycle Never Ends, is one of my favorite albums of the last few years and A Stone Engraved in Red certainly lives up to the quality of its predecessor. The guys from Ravensire are old school veterans and scene die hards and their intense love for traditional metal manifests itself in the music. This is rough and burly epic metal at its finest for fans of Manilla Road, Wrathblade, and Ironsword.
RIG average rating: 83
Featuring Russ Tippins of Satan, Tanith’s In Another Time is one of this year’s finest debuts so far. Russ Tippins’ involvement is just about where the similarities with Satan end. Compared to the fast pace and intensity of Satan, Tanith are more calm and relaxed. Rather than drawing from the heavy metal well, Tanith’s primary influences are 70s rock bands like Blue Öyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, and Wishbone Ash. However, they aren’t just another worship band – they put plenty of their own flair into the music as well with their unique dual male/female vocals and intertwining guitar melodies. In Another Time lives up to its name and is an old school album for the modern age.
RIG average rating: 83
Formed from the ashes of Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar are the proud torchbearers of Finnish doom metal. For the uninitiated, the Finnish style of doom metal is incredibly slow, deliberate, and dense. The songs will typically take a riff and build on it for the duration of a song, often times not conforming to traditional doom metal song structures. Lord Vicar’s latest album, The Black Powder, carries on this tradition with its crushing riffs and melancholic atmosphere. If you enjoy bands like Reverend Bizarre and Minotauri or are interested in early Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus taken to their extremes, then this is an album that you surely will not want to miss out on.
RIG average rating: 84
Relative to the rest of the bands highlighted this quarter, Mirror take a bit more of a straightforward approach to their music. Taking heavy influence from the likes of Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, Mirror play a familiar sound but these Cypriots have their own take on it all. Carefully weaving in Middle Eastern melodies and a more modern production, they first debuted in 2015 with their eponymous album and gave us a taste of what they’re capable of. This year’s Pyramid of Terror is an effective continuation of what we heard on the debut album and shows us a band that continues to deliver superb heavy metal.
RIG average rating: 85
Smoulder are one of the fastest rising bands in the traditional metal underground right now and there’s very good reasons for that. They started gaining traction with last year’s brilliant The Sword Woman demo which showcased epic doom metal prowess and they translated that success to this year’s debut album. Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring shows further growth from the band, incorporating faster paced tracks and more classic heavy metal elements than the preceding demo with bangers like “Ilian of Garathorm” and “Bastard Steel”. Smoulder are one of those rare bands where all the elements align just right; the aesthetics, the people, the production (Arthur Rizk’s work of course), the lyrics, and most importantly the music are all excellent. Smoulder’s members are passionate defenders of the underground and it’s evident.
RIG average rating: 86
Chevalier’s Destiny Calls is a love it or hate it album, but we here at Ride Into Glory very much love it. They’re a band that has always divided listeners due to their production and songwriting approach, but this has never deterred them. Chevalier are determined to do things their own way and we are definitely glad that’s the case. Pinning down Chevalier’s sound is a difficult task, but to put it in simplest term these Finns play speed metal. They’ve evolved and changed their sound with each of their releases and Destiny Calls is by far their most ambitious effort to date. It’s an incredibly dense album with a ton going on from ripping guitars to punk-inspired drumming to a thunderous bass that takes a life of its own. It takes several listens at a minimum to really grasp everything happening here, but its a rewarding experience. Chevalier are a band that combine the best of US Power/Epic metal like Brocas Helm, Omen, and Manilla Road, the intensity of French bands like ADX and Sortilège, and the classic Finnish alcoholism – a recipe for success in our books.
RIG average rating: 89
Unsurprisingly, The Knightlore sits comfortably as Ride Into Glory’s #1 album of the quarter with near unanimous 90+ ratings. This has been our most anticipated album of the year so far and it lives up to its massive expectations. In somewhat similar fashion to Chevalier, Vultures Vengeance can be a bit difficult to get into compared to the more straight forward bands in the genre, but their songwriting mastery is undeniable. With their loose structures, powerful leads, and grand, atmospheric approach to traditional metal, these Italians play a take on epic heavy metal reminiscent of Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, and fellow countrymen Dark Quarterer. It takes a few listens to really grasp its magnitude, but The Knightlore is truly a magical album that will undoubtedly leave its mark on the scene in the years to come.
RIG average rating: 91
Last month we premiered the demo of a brand new epic heavy metal band called Serpent Rider. This band takes influence from the likes of Manilla Road, Slough Feg, and Doomsword and features Nick Varsamis of Wrathblade on vocals. While we really enjoyed Serpent Rider, we could not include them in our ratings for this quarter. The band’s founding member and primary songwriter, Brandon Corsair, is a regular contributor here at Ride Into Glory and even helped in ratings for this article, so we don’t believe we can present unbiased ratings of this band. However, what we can say is that we enjoyed what we heard, we’re proud of Brandon, and we’re excited to see where this band goes from here!
Full Table of Ratings
Below you can find the full table of releases, ratings, and averages broken down by how each individual contributor scored them.
*Note: DOTS is a RIG contributor who has not yet published an article, however he regularly looks over material and provides amazing advice when asked. He’s an incredibly knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly individual so we asked him to participate here. He is currently writing a fantastic long form feature for the second half of this year so stay tuned for that!
|Artist||Release||RIG Average||Marco||Panos||Rhandgar||Blondie||DOTS*||Cru||Dzorr||Brandon||Eduardo||Above 3 ratings?|
|Vultures Vengeance||The Knightlore||91||93||90||91||95||85||92||91||93||90||Yes|
|Smoulder||Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring||86||90||93||91||89||81||87||80||90||76||Yes|
|Mirror||Pyramid of Terror||85||92||90||92||85||83||-||-||-||65||Yes|
|Lord Vicar||The Black Powder||84||84||-||78||90||-||-||-||-||82||Yes|
|Tanith||In Another Time||83||93||80||94||85||82||86||73||80||75||Yes|
|Ravensire||A Stone Engraved in Red||83||90||78||90||85||76||82||90||85||75||Yes|
|Vulture||Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves||82||88||80||83||-||78||-||78||80||85||Yes|
|Lunar Shadow||The Smokeless Fire||82||91||75||94||90||-||72||84||65||-||Yes|
|Flame, Dear Flame||The Millennial Heartbeat||82||84||-||86||-||-||75||-||-||-||Yes|
|Midnight Priest||Aggressive Hauntings||81||83||80||80||-||-||-||-||-||-||Yes|
|Purification||Destruction of the Wicked||80||80||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||No|
|Monasterium||Church of Bones||80||85||85||78||79||-||75||-||-||-||Yes|
|Saint Vitus||Saint Vitus||78||70||-||-||-||73||-||-||-||91||Yes|
|Ezra Brooks||Gods, Men, and Death||78||83||70||84||-||72||80||-||80||-||Yes|
|Riot City||Burning the Night||78||88||80||80||60||-||80||76||-||81||Yes|
|Pulver||King Under the Sands||76||84||70||84||78||70||75||74||75||-||Yes|
|Fatal Curse||Breaking the Trance||76||78||73||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||No|
|Altar of Oblivion||The Seven Spirits||75||87||73||83||50||75||80||-||-||-||Yes|
|The Lord Weird Slough Feg||New Organon||74||75||65||80||-||75||-||-||75||-||Yes|
|Visigoth||Bells of Awakening||73||80||70||80||-||-||-||-||70||65||Yes|
|Diamond Head||The Coffin Train||73||75||70||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||No|
|The Rods||Brotherhood of Metal||72||75||70||-||-||72||-||-||-||-||Yes|
|Amulet||The Inevitable War||69||72||65||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||No|