Behemoth: Messe Noire (Nuclear Blast)
Messe Noire is the album portion of the Live DVD of the same name that brings together two live shows, the full The Satanist album recorded at Progresja, Warsaw, Poland on October 8, 2016 and a live show from Brutal Assault Festival in 2016. The CD is the full The Satanist album performed live in front of a baying Polish crowd. The issue I always have any live albums that accompany a DVD is that obviously the performance was based for the cameras so there's a lot you miss especially because Behemoth are such a visual band the pyro, costumes and lights can't be replicated on to an audio only recording. Still it's an exciting enough to release and you can hear what Behemoth sound like live, playing their most impressive album to date. The record needs to be played loud to truly do Behemoth's punishing live performance but if you want the full package buy the DVD. 6/10
The Octopus: Supernatural Alliance (Rise Above Records)
Detroit band The Octopus were formed in 2008 by the core duo of vocalist Masha Marjieh and lead guitarist Joe Frezzato, this debut record has been 10 years in the making due to the band having more rhythm sections than Spinal Tap, however with the addition of Adam Cox as studio engineer and keys they set about creating the music you can hear on this record, the steady rhythm section on the debut comes from Matt O’Brien (bass) and Todd Glass (drums). It's 10 years put to good use as The Octopus have a winning mix of Deep Purple (Slave And Master) meets The MC5 (Strike While The Iron Is Hot).
It's psychedelic, due to the swirling organs, but it's got some garage/stoner rock grooves and wailing shamanic vocals all coming together from the woozy riff rock of The Center and sticks with the supernatural 70's grooves for the remaining 9 tracks. The guitar/keyboard interplay is marvellous both are lead instruments like those classic Lord/Blackmore but with Sabbath riffs on The Unknown, or the haunted Moody Blues-like style of All The Love. Marjieh's vocals are sat to waft across the music much like Alia O'Brien of Blood Ceremony. Apparently these songs took shape organically while the band jammed over the course of their history and they've arrived fully formed on Supernatural Alliance giving The Octopus a multi limbed appeal much like their mollusc namesake. 8/10
Headless Crown: Century Decade (Massacre Records)
The Swiss are pretty hit and miss when it comes to heavy metal, for a small country they've got a fair few bands and they can range from great to not so good, while this is true for a lot of countries it's more obvious when a country has such a small population and numerous bands. However Headless Crown fall into the positive category as they've got a real grip on tough proper heavy metal that takes its sound from Accept and Judas Priest.
Their second album Century Of Decay is a dark concept record but if the concept element doesn't win you over the music here stands out on its own merit with a rampaging at times thrashing rhythm section, skillful lead playing and gravelly vocals. You can hear from the strength of this record that Headless Crown are probably an excellent live act but their honed, aggressive style of classic metal is a winner for any fans of classic heavy metal. 7/10
Shadowkeep: S/T (Pure Steel Records)
Power metal now from Guilford and Shadowkeep's fourth album has been in digestion for 10 years now, after their luck with vocalists ran out on their previous record The Hourglass Effect they couldn't find the right singer for the band until very recently, taking up the microphone here is James Rivera of Texas speed/horror metal band Helstar who adds his high pitched powerful vocal prowess to the lighting fast progressive/power metal assault. As you can appreciate the music here sounds a lot like Helstar with the speed metal influences shining through from Guardian Of The Sea which is built on the solid foundations of original members Chris Allen and Nicki Robinson's six stringing which is technically proficent, complex but also has those masters of Maiden, Priest etc.
The other major influence is that of Queensryche, Little Lion has the layered acoustic approach of the Seattle but most of the music here is great power metal that also has touches of Iced Earth. We see a lot of bands from the history of UK metal be revived after a long period of absence and usually they are crap but hopefully it won't be as long before they release another record as this is one UK metal act that should still be heard. 7/10