Samael: Hegemony (Napalm Records)
Here's a blast from the past! The Swiss Industrial Black metal act named after Archangel last dropped a record in 2011 so it's been a long wait for fans but the waiting has been rewarded with yet another extreme metal monolith it sees frontman Vorph leading his band in another load of brutal riffage, twisted through electronic synths, it's bleak and beautiful with the icy delivery of the band's homeland. Hegemony is the band's eleventh full length and continues to pair thumping basslines with cinematic choirs, unhuman cinematics, thundering guitar riffs and snarling vocals from Vorph.
Samael is as a close to a classic metal track as you'll get but it too has the glass cutting synth and a foot to the throat repetitiveness than you can't help but bang your head too. Hegemony is the sound of a band in their 30th year drawing from their long career to make this record their most complete yet, barely drawing breath it's at time overwhelming having an unceasing battery only reserved for Behemoth and Septicflesh, there are plenty of strings but they are by no means delicate being just as stirring as the electronic instrumentation reinforcing it on the head kicking Rite Of Renewal. Over the course of 13 tracks Samael give you everything they have taking through their career from the black metal of their early days right up to their current industrial metal stomp, with both intertwining on Black Supremacy.
This is a record not for the feint of heart there's never really a drop in the aural ordinance of the hypnotic riffs never cease and it's all the better for it, if you like the feeling of a Dr Marten stomping on your throat then buy Hegemony it's the result of Satan, his metal band and a symphony orchestra having a fight in a trance club. A thrilling piece of work. 9/10
Dr. Living Dead: Cosmic Conqueror (Century Media)
Crossover thrash had it's heyday in the 80's early 90's bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I, Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags all took the emerging thrash scene and mixed it with the more riotus hardcore punk, the resulting music was the soundtrack for numerous skaters, surfers and all kinds of bodacious dudes. More recently Municipal Waste have been led the resurgence for this kind of party on thrash, Dr Living Dead are trying to claim that throne for their own with this second full length, fast paced riffs, an adrenaline driven attitude and hardcore shouted vocals are all in place.
The first three songs are a flurry of riffs and drumming but they bring a slam dance groove to the creeping Terror Vision before ramping it back up again on the title track which is probably the fastest track on the record, but it's not all chest beating hardcore thrash, they really give a melodic touch to Into The Eye but it's not long before the noise returns. Crossover thrash and hardcore in general has never been up there in my list of favourite genres, but playing this album after shredding a huge line on your board and downing some brewski's with your buddies will make sure your party is 'the bomb'. *Throws Shaka sign* 7/10
Phantom V: Play To Win (Frontiers Records)
Another collab project from Frontiers, this time one that is on it's second record, Phantom V is the collaboration between producer/guitarist (and for this record, bassist) Michael Voss and vocalist Claus Lessmann they have brought the same band from the debut record to fill out the band and they haven't even tried to move away from the formula they set out on their debut, Play To Win is Germanic hard rock, think the Scorpions crossed with Pink Cream 69, there's big melodic synths but the songs are driven by the powerful riffage of Voss who not only plays some of the best guitar of his career, he also gives the slick production and co-writes all of the songs with Lessman who's silky gritty vocals are a perfect fit, nestling into the Jorn mold.The so silly it's good Baptised is a song that features the line "baptised by rock n roll" yes it's all a little lightweight conceptually but sometimes you just need a bit of slick AOR and a song like Read Your Mind to belt out at the top of your voice. Phantom V definately Play To Win on this release, polished hard rock with songs that just radiate warmth. 7/10
Psychedelic Witchcraft: Sound Of The Wind (Listenable Records)
Italian band Psychedelic Witchcraft owe as much to Ennio Morricone as they do Sabbath and Jefferson, they cast dark haunting soundscapes that have a foundation of low fuzz riffs bluesy rhythms and Virginia Morti's bewitching vocals. Sound Of The Wind starts off with Maat a woozy acoustic number that is based upon the ancient concept of truth and order, harmony and justice. It's nothing more than an intro with strutting Lords Of War (no Nic Cage in sight unfortunately) which sees Jacopo Falla giving a reverb boosted solo. There's something a little otherworldly about Psychedelic Witchcraft their music is deeply spiritual in nature basing tracks on nature both human and environmental and what effect these have on us as beings.
A hippie mantra on title track Sound of The Wind which does steal some of it's sound from White Rabbit as Morti gives a breathy performance Grace Slicks would recognise, it's not the only track that wears a strong influence though as Turn Me On could be a lost Hendrix track, elsewhere though the famous paranormal investigators The Warrens are committed to record on the track of the same name, a track with neat use of creepy organ and they get down and dirty with Sin Of Mine a filthy blues number about sex. Sound Of The Wind keeps Psychedelic Witchcraft's knack of conjuring bluesy doom rock, it's a record that's darkly intriguing and full of occult rock mastery. 8/10