Nightrage: The Venomous (Despotz Records)
Nightrage have been around since 2000 and in the 17 years they have been around they have been playing precision guided melodic death metal. The band hail from Thessaloniki originally but decamped to the home of melo-death Gothenburg, Nightrage has seen many well known names in the Greek and Swedish metal seen pass through it's ranks having had Gus G (Firewind), Olo Morck (Amaranthe), Tomas Linberg (At The Gates), Johan Nunez (Firewind), Constantine (Nightfall) and Fotis Bernardo (SixForNine) but the one constant has been guitarist and band leader Marios Iliopoulos who has reconvened with bassist Anders Hammer and vocalist Ronnie Nyman for their first album since 2015 on board for this one is second guitarist Magnus Söderman and drummer Lawrence Dinamarca both of whom have been in the band since 2016 in a touring capacity.
This live connectivity shines through. Nyman's vocals are harsh throughout, gone are the clean vocals of their earlier records but even those that don't like harsh vocals will enjoy this record as the lyrics are audible and he is singing rather than growling. There are blast beats galore of course this is Gothenburg death metal after all Metamorphosis/Day Of Wrath but it's the guitar playing that makes this record, the dual harmonies, explosive solos and laser guided riffage all remind you of In Flames, Dark Tranquility and even Children Of Bodom due to the intensely technical guitar playing. The Venomous is a great album for Melo-death fans it's a shining example of the genre, fast, furious and dangerous to know just as it should be. 8/10
Doctor Cyclops: Local Dogs (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Heavy Psych Sounds delivers another reverb drenched slab of psychedelic rock ripped straight out of the hazy days of the 70's. Doctor Cyclops are hard rocking trio from Northern Italy they play proto-metal with Sir Lord Baltimore, Captain Beyond, Blue Cheer the obvious reference points as the band roar through 10 riff-filled tracks that has some great drumming, low groovy bass, wild vocals and fuzzy guitars. Stardust is a low-down dirty track with open bass chords and a trippy solo that leads into big doom riffage and jam-like final third.
Stardust and Druid Samhain both feature Mr retro hard rock himself Bill Steer who if you don't know is not just riff-grinder in Carcass but has two retro styled band in Gentleman's Pistols and Firebird, his influence is all over the record but he shines on his two tracks, still with Epicurus Doctor Cyclops show their own mettle with a proggy track that sits well as the more psychedelic end of the spectrum. Doctor Cyclops have been a presence for two albums now and their third record is probably their strongest to date, Heavy Psych Sounds have a knack of signing great bands and they've hooked onto another winner with Doctor Cyclops. 7/10
Cybernetic Witch Cult: Troglodithic Trip (Self Released)
Get your groove trousers on folks, these Cornwall masters of the riff are back with a new EP. Lyrically the Sci-Fi, John Carpenter and Sam Rami are omnipresent as Alex grizzles over his fuzz drenched riffs backed by the throbbing undercurrent of Kale and Lewis. Tracks like Astrogalactic Sprites sound like Black Sabbath jamming with Hawkwind while a green fug hangs in the air, the 7 songs on this record give you a good account of the Witch Cult's sound and the sprawling Cult Of The Druid is a perfect exhibit for their musical power, followed by the simplicity of Forbidden Fruit and the enormous Human which are both brilliant. Currently on tour with our own Lacertilla CWC are the ideal accompaniment as another quality psych fuelled, riff driven band from the UK. 8/10