Cannibal Corpse: Red Before Black (Metal Blade Records)
2017 has been a year when so many heavy hitters in the death metal scene have delivered absolute monsters. Beasts from Obituary, Suffocation. Immolation and Dying Fetus demonstrated that the old school remain the masters. It’s no surprise that one of the grandfathers of the entire genre, Cannibal Corpse have also hit hard, fast and with a clear statement of intent. With their last gore fest, Skeletal Remains now over three years old, Red Before Black welcomes back the Corpse to the fold with blistering intensity.
46 minutes, 12 tracks all absolutely skull crushing but oh so impressive. Slicing vicious guitar work, batteringly heavy drumming, thunderous bass lines and the delicate vocal delivery of George Corpsegrinder Fischer combine on tracks such as Shredding My Human Skin, Head Shovelled Off and the pretty love song Scavenger Consuming Death. It’s exactly as you’d want Cannibal Corpse to be. But there is much more. The sound is as raw as their early releases yet technically Red Before Black may well be the band’s most technically competent release. It’s so fucking tight. Cannibal Corpse: Brutal. Clinical. Concentrated. Intense. Absolutely devastating. These guys hit the UK next year. Get in the pit. 9/10
Blues Pills: Lady In Gold - Live In Paris (Nuclear Blast)
Recorded at Le Trianon in Paris in October 2016 on the Lady In Gold tour, this album captures the band in full flow. If you’ve never seen Blues Pills, then you’ve missed out. Fronted by the astonishing Elin Larsson, the band play a psychedelic blues fusion which carries a distinctive hard rock underbelly. Live In Paris provides an accurate representation of the band in the live arena. More jams, heavier and with free reign to deviate from the studio, tracks such as Bad Talkers, Black Smoke, High Class Woman and Devil Man are enhanced and captured in their rawest form.
The guitar work of Frenchman Dorain Sorriaux is special enough on records but here he is on scintillating form, demonstrating his talent of making the most difficult things sound effortless. Ably supported by bassist Zach Anderson, Andre Kvarnström on drums and Rickard Nygren on rhythm and organ, Sorriaux and Larsson kick through 15 tracks from their two full releases. Other highlights include the opener Lady In Gold and the solo I Felt A Change which sees Larsson and a piano centre stage. Live albums can be a bit of a waste of time at times. Lady In Gold – Live In Paris isn’t one of those. 8/10
The Offering: Self-titled EP (Century Media Records)
A five piece from Boston, Massachusetts, The Offering’s debut EP is an absolute maelstrom of sounds and influences. There’s death metal, power metal and classic rock all neatly tied up in a sledgehammer blow. Huge riffs and thundering drumming combine neatly with some impressive varied vocals from Alexander Vice. Technical guitar work of Daniel Martinez and Nishad George, who also produced the release recall Nevermore and Iced Earth, and that can only be a good thing. From the opener Rat King to the massive Witch Pit through to closing title track, The Offering grabs the listener by the throat and maintains the stranglehold for the full 25 minutes. A very impressive release. 8/10
Heretic: A Game You Cannot Win (Dissonance)
Heretic formed in 1985 before disbanding in 1988 and reformed in 2011. A thrash band from Los Angeles, they are probably best known for early vocalist Mike Howe, who joined the mighty Metal Church in 1988. The current line-up features guitarist Brian Korban who formed Reverend with ex- metal Church singer David Wayne. Korban is on superb form on the third album from the band, the first since 2012’s A Time Of Crisis.
Vocalist Julian Mendez, on board since the reformation in 2011 knows his limitations and plays to his strengths, hitting a decent range of notes throughout, and sounding a little like Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna and even Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson at times. Heretic play uncomplicated thrash which gets the head nodding and the urge to mosh tingling in the veins. It’s fast, furious and infectious. Tracks like This World Called Hell, Before The Fall and the Maiden/Priest styled Master At Her Game are all worth a listen, with Korban and guitarist Stuart Fujinami in blistering form. Grab a copy, strap yourself down and pound that head. 7/10