Read my Dreambook!
Sign my Dreambook!

THE ALL NEW ALBUM REVIEW PAGE: Why! Cuz we ran out of space on this one. Click here for the latest reviews from Highwire Daze!

Updated: 11/13/00

New CD Reviews on Agathodaimon, Agony Lords, Ancient Wisdom, Angel Dust, Ashes You Leave, Autumn Tears, The Black League, Borknagar, Born Blind, Carnal Forge, Cemetary 1213, Corvus Corax, Crematory, Cultus Sanguine, Dargaard, Dark Tranquillity, Desecration, Destruction, Diaboli, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Dominion3, Drottnar, Dysanchely, Even Song, Forest Of Impaled, Forlorn, The Gathering, Griffin, Guidance Of Sin, Hate Plow, Himinbjorg, Immortal, Judas Iscariot, Judas Priest Tribute, Killing Machine, Macabre, Maudlin Of The Well, Mental Home, Mondo Generator, Morgenstern, Mrs. Hippie, Mutant, Myriads, Nasum, Necrophobic, Nokturnal Mortum, Obscenity, Origin, Primordial, Project Grudge, Ragnarok, Raven, Serpent Obscene, Seth, Slayer Tribute, Soilwork, Stormrider, Stuck Mojo, Thalarion, Therion, Too Many Gods, Tormentor, Transport League, Troll, Luca Turilli, Vader, Vintersorg, Walhalla, Windham Hell, Witch-Hunt, and Wolf!!! Check them out below!




After Forever is a melodic band in the tradition of The Gathering, who combine classical, gothic and black metal elements coming up with a highly unique sound. All this, and they have a female vocalist with a stunning alto range! Haunting and poetic, EPHEMERAL by After Forever features four compelling tunes that are bound to get them noticed. This is real dramatic material with sweet lullaby-like passages interwoven with wild, sonic jolts. Based out of The Nederlands, After Forever have quite a bit going for them -- outstanding vocals, highly effective keyboards, an occasional rant from a male co-vocalist, and musicians who can really drive it all home. Visit the AFTER FOREVER HOME PAGE and acquire a copy of the CD for yourself.

AFTER FOREVER: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


BLACKEN THE ANGEL was such an impressive debut, one really began to wonder if Agathodaimon could really deliver the goods for a second time. The answers are found on HIGHER ART OF REBELLION, and itís a resounding yes! Based out of Germany, this Black Metal band perform lyrics in both old Romanian and English. On this album, you will find both death and black metal vocals, plus actual singing too!

Higher Art Of Rebellion opens on a uneasy note with the sounds of a turntable revving up to produce the mighty "Ne Cheama Pamintul." "A Death In Itís Plentitude" is a stand-out cut, showing just how far all members of Agathodaimon have grown as musicians. Other tracks that could be Black Metal classics are "Tongue Of Thorns," "Body Of Clay," and "Neovampirism." Recorded at Magic Song Studios in the Romanian capital of Bucuresti, Higher Art Of Rebellion is an explosive work of artistic madness. Available by mail order only (in the States) from Nuclear Blast Records!

AGATHODAIMON: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


While there have been conflicting reports as to the current status of Agony Lords, it may be agreed upon that they are one of the best underground metal bands to ever come out of Mexico. And with their latest (and possibly last) effort entitled Nihilist Passion, one can sample the band both in the studio and live on stage. There are deep traces of death metal, but for the most part, Agony Lords appear to be very influenced by the likes of Metallica and Megadeth. The five new songs contained on Nihilist Passion are outstanding, showing the band on the verge of true metal greatness. "All Saints Are Bleeding" and "Self Apocalyptic Defiance" are especially noteworthy, demonstrating a creative band very willing to go well above and beyond genre expectations. Those who have never seen Agony Lords live will actually want to after hearing the nine songs recorded during their "Tour Of The Cursed" road show in late 1998. Itís amazing how Agony Lords remain somewhat obscure here in the States. Theyíve been around for nearly a decade, put on consistently good recordings and perform memorable concerts. No wonder these guys are feeling a bit burnt out these days! The world still needs these Agony Lords, so be sure to get a copy of Nihilist Passion and show your support for one of the most talented bands to come from South of the border.

AMDUSCIAS by AMDUSCIAS (Metal Blade Records)

Amduscias play Black Metal in the grand Nordic tradition of Darkthrone and Emperor. And did I mention that this awesome group is from Japan? They were impressive enough to be signed on by the infamous Blackend label. And now, after a bit of a delay, Metal Blade is releasing their six song debut EP here in the States. Amduscias' music is extreme, atmospheric and blasphemous, featuring sonic guitar work and rapturous vocals. From the opening strains of "The Dragon Domination" to the intensive "Blood From Your Heart," Amduscias prove that Black Metal is a feeling -- a movement -- and not a sort of regional thing. It's just three guys making all this evil noise and they are Ryuichi on vocals and bass, Tomoya on guitars, and Mike I. on drums. A brilliant debut from a band that should make it's mark within the world wide Black Metal scene.


Although Amsvartner's full length album DREAMS has just been released by Blackend, an earlier debut EP entitled THE TROLLISH MIRROR has turned up domestically courtesy of Metal Blade Records. While all members of Amsvartner are teenagers, they can play Black Metal with the best of them. Originally recorded in 1997, THE TROLLISH MIRROR features four mesmerizing compositions. Extremely aggressive and raw, this young band breathes new life into the genre, startling the listener with their melodic intensity and poetic meanderings. Based out of Umea, Sweden, Amsvartner may be young but they were good enough to be signed by the notorious Blackend label. Now fans of Black Metal in the States can experience what these talented musicians of the new generation have in store for the scene. Check out THE TROLLISH MIRROR and then do what you can to acquire their dynamic DREAMS recording. If Amsvartner is the future of Black Metal, then all is looking pretty good these daze!

AMSVARTNER: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Ancientís last album MAD GRANDOISE BLOODFIENDS was evil vampire-like fun Ė an assault on the senses that found many taken by surprise. There have been many changes since, including the departure of long time lead screecher Lord Kaiaphas. Main songwriter and founding member Aphazel has taken over in the vocal department, in addition to his guitar and keyboard duties. Always the brains and creative force behind Ancient, Aphazel and his co-conspirators return with an awesome new album entitled THE HALLS OF ETERNITY. Over an hour of wonderfully bizarre Black Metal, The Halls Of Eternity is creepy, sinister and oddly endearing. Whether itís Aphazelís evil rantings, the poetic readings of The Deadly Kristin or the compelling music, Ancient are easily the most innovative Black Metal band this side of Cradle Of Filth.

Opening with an overture called "Cast Into The Unfathomed Deeps," the disc kicks into the stratosphere with "Born In Flames." "The Battle Of The Ancient Warriors" is a highlight of epic proportions while the spooky "I, Madman" features a guest appearance by Jesus Christ! himself! (The sometimes Ancient member, not the dude born 2000 years ago!) Elements of goth and doom abound, all given the twisted Ancient treatment. Aggressive and intense, expect Ancient to be around for ages, reminding us all what a thrilling genre Black Metal can really be!


Ancient Wisdom play slow, depressive Black Metal music that is a total masterpiece within a genre where many of the bands are beginning to sound alike. Symphonic and melancholy, the truly amazing factor here is that everything is performed by just one single man. The musicianís name is Marcus Norman and he is one of most innovative yet underrated talents in the Black Metal scene today. Having initiated the project as an entire band in 1992, Norman now chooses to perform alone, and the results are instantly memorable. From the lonely ice-cold piano sounds to the harsh guitars, shimmering keyboards and chilling vocals, Ancient Wisdom fill the room with their opulent, oppressive melodies. The title track "And The Physical Shape Of Light Bled" is Black Metal of sheer epic proportions clocking in at nearly nine minutes in length. Other memorable tracks include "With His Triumph Came Fire," "As The Morning Star Shineth," and their cover of the Demon song "The Spell." Older fans of Ancient Wisdom will not be disappointed and newer converts who wish to use their hard earned money on some fantastic Black Metal are well advised to seek this one out. An unforgettable, somber journey through metallic darkness!!!


It is obvious that Andre Andersen is inspired by great rock and classical composers. A member of the under-rated Royal Hunt outfit, this is Andersen's big solo effort and the results are grand and sweeping. Andersen's keyboard work on CHANGING SKIN is stunning and visionary, adding a good deal of dramatic flair to the proceedings. First there's the dynamic title track, a nine-plus minute opus that will surely tantalize all fans of progressive rock. "1000 Miles Away" is an intimate pop ballad, done up with Andersen's shimmering keyboard work. Another highlight is the melodious "Wings Of Tomorrow." Although many of the songs are long, they always keep the listener interested and thrilled about all that is commencing. Andersen is a mighty talent, a modern day classical composer who can virtually do no wrong -- whether it's a solo effort or with his band, Andersen performs with a studied grace and skill that will continue to win over prog-rock junkies worldwide.


Angelcorpse is one of the most extreme death metal bands youíll ever hear. Their infernal noise is pulsating and relentless Ė itís really amazing to see that all this brutality is being spewed forth by just three musicians. THE INEXORABLE is the third Angel Corpse album and itís certainly the most intensive work the band has ever done. In the classic Florida death metal tradition, Angelcorpse is ready to make their mark, comparing favorable with the likes of Immolation, Monstrosity Ė even another Corpse band whose first name is Cannibal. Better than average lyrics and lightning speed tunes make Angelcorpse stand out in the already crowded death metal sweepstakes. Brought to you by Olympic Recordings via Osmose Productions, the greatest irony is that all this evil sick sh*t is indirectly affiliated with the same major label (Mercury) that sprung the affable Hanson upon the world. While the little girls may not understand, Olympic, Mercury and the rest are obviously tuned in to one thing Ė that bands like Angelcorpse will help to bring extreme metal to the forefront and make it very, very popular indeed!


With so many good metal bands out there, itís easy to get lost in the crowd. But with three impressive albums in three years, one can only hope that this doesnít happen to Angel Dust. An aggressive power metal band from Dortmund, Germany, the new Angel Dust CD ENLIGHTEN THE DARKNESS is a bright shining ray of hope amongst all the clutter. Originating in the mid 80ís only to break up after two recordings, the band took nearly a decade off, only to return stronger than ever! At this point, Angel Dust is just beginning to peak as musicians and songwriters. "Let Me Live" and "Enjoy!" are outstanding anthems that will grab you by the throat. Your favorites will change with each listen, as tracks like "Crown Of Hatred," "Fly Away" and "Iím Still Bleeding" are attention grabbers as well. Featuring the outstanding vocal work of Dirk Thurisch and the powerhouse drumming of Dirk Assmuth, the current Angel Dust line-up is top notch! This also includes Bernd Auferman on guitar, Frank Banx on bass, and Steven Banx on keyboards. After you listen to the grand power metal of Angel Dust, youíre sure to hold them in the highest regard -- way above the crowd of mere amateurs and hopefuls. Highly recommended!

BURNING BRIDGES by ARCH ENEMY (Century Media Records)

If there was ever a super-group of extreme metal, Arch Enemy would be it. Consisting of past and present members of such known acts as In Flames, Carcass and Carnage, the musicianship of Arch Enemy is nothing short of a revelation. Brothers Michael and Christopher Amott create an intense wall of sound on dueling guitars. Johan Lilva delivers a fierce vocal performance while Daniel Erlandsson contributes the mighty percussive beats. Then, of course, there's new bassist Sharlee D'Angelo, an extraordinary talent who appears to be in every cool band that the metal scene currently has to offer -- just look at Mercyful Fate and Witchery for proof! BURNING BRIDGES is the third recording for Arch Enemy, containing 11 tracks of pure, ferocious energy. Combining elements of death, thrash and progressive metal, Arch Enemy play it in a demonic, yet melodic fashion. When spinning this disc, be prepared for fantastic guitar work and a mighty metal assault on your senses!!! Stand-out tracks include "Pilgrim," "Silverwing" and "The Immortal." Bands like Arch Enemy show us all why Sweden is still a breeding ground teeming with new and improved metal. So rock on and check out Arch Enemy's newest today!!!


Ashes You Leave gives the world a unique take on the goth/doom metal genre, combining exotic vocals and rhythms to itís intensive musical backgrounds. Based out of Croatia (not exactly a heavy metal haven), this could be why Ashes You Leave has such an original sound. The female vocalist, Dunja Radetic is outstanding, singing and chanting with the passion and expertise of an Ofra Haza or even Grace Slick. Traditional black and death vocals are added to the mix, plus unusual instruments such as flutes and violins. And the heaviness of the guitar parts drive it all home with a ferocious vengeance. The title track is brilliant and haunting while "When Withered Flower Begin To Bloom" has the vocalist chanting like a woman possessed by something unworldly. The Inheritance Of Sin And Shame is the third full length release from Ashes You Leave, and itís compelling sounds will take you on a journey beyond culture and musical genre. There is a magic involved that is unexplainable here, like a mystery one hopes to solve with repeated listenings. If you want to go on a trip well beyond whatís normally expected in the world of gothic/doom metal, let Ashes You Leave be the ones to take you there. A stunning work of sheer artistry!


Act Three in the remarkable Love Poems For Dying Children series, Winter And The Broken Angel by Autumn Tears is a musical masterpiece. Inspired by classical symphonies, choral music, and new age mysticism, Autumn Tears present musical soundtracks that are deceptively enchanting. Pensive and dramatic, the line-up features two superb female vocalists. Nearly all the instruments are performed with keyboards, sweeping the listener away on a peaceful yet disturbing journey. All compositions are extremely well written with the credit going to a musician who simply calls himself Ted. In addition to the brilliant musical landscapes, the packaging of Winter And The Broken Angel is the best Iíve ever seen from an indie label. Expect Autumn Tears to challenge your mind and spirit with their poetic, romantic lyricism and somber musical passages.

THE FINAL WISH by AVRIGUS (Warhead Records)

I'd love to see a duo like this at Lilith Fair! Avrigus play beautiful, sweeping doom metal in such an intricate fashion, you'd never guess that it was just two musicians making all that exquisite noise. Simon Gruer (ex-Cruciform) plays keyboards, guitar, drums, and even engineers and produces! Judy Chiara not only sings in a haunting alto, but adds additional keyboard parts in as well. The worst thing about THE FINAL WISH is that it only contains four songs! And while the genre may be defined as a sub-catagory of metal, those who like female vocalists such as Elizabeth Frasier (Cocteau Twins), Sarah Maclaughlan and even Enya, are sure to enjoy Avrigus. The lyrics are intellegent and the music is compelling. THE FINAL WISH ultimately transcends all genres and presents the listener with a wistful piece of art. Hailing from Australia, Avrigus is a band to watch for -- I'm looking forward to what this creative duo dream up next.


With the release of Ten More Tales..., there is little doubt that Balance Of Power belong to the new elite of the power metal movement. Based out of the UK, this is the third effort from Balance Of Power, and it's a stunning, melodic album filled to the brim with heavy metal greatness. The musicianship found within Balance Of Power is outstanding, and the songs will stay in your head like the great anthems one remembers from 80's arena rock. Highlights on the disc include the rockin' first track "Day Breaker," the emotional "Savage Tears," and the sad yet empathetic "Blind Man." Balance Of Power is destined to become a new favorite for many who dig the sounds of bands like Queensryche, Dream Theatre, and Lillian Axe.

ICHOR by THE BLACK LEAGUE (Nuclear Blast Records)

Influenced by the likes of Metallic and Pink Floyd, The Black League has set out to create depressive landscapes of doom style metal, and the music they bring forth is well worth checking into. Combining both aggressive passages and dreamy, hypnotic interludes, The Black League are very up to challenging metal conventions. Ichor is adventurous music, and could be compared favorably to their obvious influences. Tunes like "Doomswatcher," "Goiní To Hell," "Avalon," and "Deep Waters" are bound to be crowd pleasers. "Ozymandias" is a chilling composition with lyrics taken from the famed P.B. Shelley poem written in 1817. The musicianship found within The Black League is outstanding while vocalist Taneli Jarva delivers the lyrics with a dark ferocity. Yet another promising import from Finland, Ichor by The Black League is a compelling work of musical art that must be heard all the way through to be truly appreciated. Compelling and insightful, itís obvious that Nuclear Blast have yet another winner on their hands!

BREEDING DEATH by BLOODBATH (Century Media Records)

Bloodbath is an amazing death metal band that recalls the very great Slayer in their heydey. Super brutal and intensive, about the only thing wrong with their BREEDING DEATH debut is that it only contains three songs!!! Presented as a tribute to old school death metal, Bloodbath goes way beyond what currently is being thrashed around in the genre today. It is little wonder why the band possesses so much power and force, as Bloodbath contains an all-star line-up of Swedish musicians, starting off with Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth on driving vocal rantings! Also featured in the band are Anders Nystrom from Katatonia and Diabolical Masquerade on guitars, and Jonas Renkse from Katatonia and October Tide on bass. And let's not forget the great Dan Swano fromerly of Edge Of Sanity, who stands in admirably as Bloodbath's guest drummer. Recorded at Swano's own Sanctuary Studios, BREEDING DEATH by Bloodbath is too good to be just a one-time side project -- fortunately the band is hinting there may just be much more to come...

QUINTESSENCE by BORKNAGAR (Century Media Records)

Borknagar have always been like the Rush of Black Metal, willing to experiment with a more technical sound without shedding their true musical origins. With their fourth album entitled Quintessence, Borknagar continue with their thrilling epic sound that has garnered them a good deal of respect throughout the world. The disc starts off with the haunting "Rivalry Of Phantoms" and continues on with the mystical "The Presence Is Ominous" complete with majestic, sing-a-long choruses. "The Rules Of The Future" is a chilling, foreboding cut while "Colossus" and "Revolt" show Borknagar at their most dramatic. Founding member ōystein Garnes Brun writes a good deal of the music and shares guitar duties with Jens F. Ryland. The noise exuded by the two axemen is full and dynamic. Vocalist (and bass player) I.C.S. Vortex does extremely powerful work, whether it be the traditional Black Metal growl or the over-the-top singing. He and Asgeir Mickelson make up a compelling rhythm section with keyboardist Lars A. Nedland filling in the somber mood-scapes. Quintessence is sure to blast Borknagar up into the ranks of the Norwegian metal elite.

BORKNAGAR: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

ONE FOR ALL by BORN BLIND (Solid State Records)

Born Blind play hardcore metal that is dynamic and inspiring. Based out of San Diego and with influences such as Sick Of It All and Agnostic Front, Born Blind are passionate about the lyrics and what they stand for. One For All opens with "Outcry," a track about violence in society that is hard hitting. The title cut is a certified anthem, while the song that bares the bandís moniker is also destined for greatness within the hardcore scene. "Look Into My Soul" is another stand-out, performed with a ferocious urgency. Just about all of their lyrics deal with a Christian influence, yet they seem to preach tolerance and apparently reject the closed mindedness that certain factions of the religion encourages. Vocalist Judd Morgan was once in No Innocent Victim and delivers the lyrics on Born Blind with a fierce magnetism. A few of the other members appeared briefly in NIV as well with (perhaps explaining their cover of the NIV song "Stabbed In The Back"). One For All by Born Blind is an exciting recording that will inspire many, as well as raise some interesting questions about spirituality and itís place in the hardcore scene.

FIREDEMON by CARNAL FORGE (Century Media Records)

Carnal Forge bursts out of your speakers and threaten to suffocate you with their hyperactive Swedish death metal assaults. With Jonas Kjellgren also being a member of Centinex and Dellamorte, it should come as no surprise that Carnal Forge are out to incinerate the world with their metallic thrashings. Firedemon features twelve tracks of extreme brutality that are guaranteed to wake the f*cking dead out of their sleepy time graves. Songs like "Too Much Hell Ainít Enough For Me," "I Smell Like Death (Son Of A Bastard)," and "The Torture Will Never Stop" show that Carnal Forge mean business. Relentless and driving, you donít just live this fierce metallic assault Ė you survive it! So listen to Firedemon by Carnal Forge and bang your head into utter oblivion!!!


Castigate is a brutal death metal band from Germany who spew out their dark and evil music with much technical bravado. This is intense, demonic sh*t alright, complete with blasphemous lyrics, all delivered by a mighty trio of talented musicians. The stand out tracks include "Down By The Crematory Woods," "Cleansing White Fire," and "Bring Me The Head Of Jesus Christ." The most interesting aspect of Castigate's music is their well thought out ideas, whether it's the chilling poetry or the harsh, atmospheric rhythms. Those into such bands as Monstrosity and Immolation should check out BRING ME THE HEAD OF... by Castigate and prepare for a wild session of hard and heavy head banging! The members of Castigate are Bjorn Fratzer on bass and vocals, Arnd Kleinkes on guitar, and Thorsten "Owen" Bertram on drums.

THE BEAST DIVINE by CEMETARY 1213 (Century Media Records)

Cemetary was one of my favorite bands on the Black Mark label whose prolific output in the 90ís was consistently brilliant and innovative. Their music comprised of catchy, goth-inspired metal and the material became more impressive with each album. After leaving Black Mark, they were known as Sundown, taking their moniker from one of the early Cemetary releases. And now thereís been yet another name change Ė so meet Cemetary 1213 and prepared to be thrilled by this group of musicians who will continue to push metal boundaries well into this, the 21st century! Strange name, yes, but itís in reference to the "1213 Transgalatica" song from their classic Last Confessions album.

The Beast Divine is Cemetary 1213ís latest creation, and itís an outstanding collection of tunes guaranteed to both chill your blood and get your head banging. "The Lightning/Firewire" is a mighty thrasher that kicks off the album into supersonic gear! "Union Of The Rats" is next, arguably one of the best songs this band has ever recorded Ė a goth anthem that will infest your mind for ages. "AntiChrist 3000" combines an industrial style music with a harsh, early Metallica sound. "Linking Shadows" has cool vocals and a driving beat while "Sunset Grace" is an icy cold blast of moody malevolence. Another fantastic track is "Dead Boy Wonder," a powerful piece that threatens to explode through your speakers!

The Beast Divine is excellent from beginning to finish Ė a dark and devastating work of art that will warrant repeated listenings. Congrats to Mathias Lodmalm and company for an awesome, fully realized effort. Now if only we can get Century Media to release it here in the States!!! In the meantime, buy The Beast Divine as an import and prepare for your finest journey through the dark gothic dimensions of Cemetary 1213!

BLOODHUNT by CENTINEX (Repulse Records)

This is music to start the f*cking Third World War with!!! Centinex perform dark and brutal death metal and it's guaranteed to blow out your stereo speakers if you dare to play it loud enough. Hailing from Sweden, Centinex have just put out a dynamic six song EP entitled BLOODHUNT," and it will leave a lasting impress on all who submit to it. Now featuring a new vocalist and lead guitarist (both refugees from the Dellamorte horde), the Centinex sound is more forceful than ever! It's an unrelenting assault on the senses and Centinex will win this war! Stand-out tracks include "The Conquest Infernal," "The Darkened Storms," and "Under the Pagan Glory." After nearly a decade in the service of heavy metal, it's good to see Centinex continuing to terrorize fans of extreme music the world over. So shut the f*ck up and hail the warriors of Centinex!


While many are quick to point out that the American Black Metal scene pales in comparison to what the Europeans can do, bands like Corvus Corax display real promise and innovation with their fine musical soundtracks. Based out of the Pacific Northwest, Corvus Corax play Symphonic Black Metal that is sweeping and adventurous. There are beautiful passages as well as sonic blasts contained within the music. With the songs averaging 12 minutes in length, The Atavistic Triad presents the listener with modern day neo-classical rock compositions containing various metallic influences. The entire project is rich with originality and clearly ranks with there with the best of the genre. Starting off with a haunting overture, the band goes into sonic overdrive, loading your sense with a fiery pallet of sound. Corvus Corax raise Black Metal music into an art form. The Atavistic Triad is possibly the most compelling, intelligent debut youíre likely to hear this year.


For those awaiting the next Cradle Of Filth full length release, From The Cradle To Enslave should fully satisfy your bloodthirst! One of the most famous Black Metal bands in the world, COF continue to grow in a positive, yet still very blasphemous direction. The EP features six tracks in all, including new songs, a remix, and cover material. Their version of The Misfits "Death Comes Ripping" is a clever, slamming tribute. COF does an interesting rendition of Anathemaís "Sleeping" as well. "Funeral In Carpathia," originally contained on COFís Dusk And Her Embrace effort, is remade here in a "Be Quick or Be Dead" version. And two brand new songs -- "Of Dark Blood and F**cking" and the awesome title cut shows why COF shall remain one of the very best in the overcrowded Black Metal genre. Vocalist Dani Filth is a hyper-animated performer -- our narrator through the chilling tales of gothic horror and erotic dementia. Hopefully the current COF line-up will stay long enough to record their next classic and subject the world to their hymns of decadence once again!

ACT SEVEN by CREMATORY (Nuclear Blast Records)

While edging more towards accessibility (but still on their own fierce terms), ACT SEVEN by Crematory shows a band at the very height of their musical powers. Performing melodic, gothic rock that edges somewhere between Metallica and Depeche Mode, Crematory redefine a whole musical genre. The boundaries are now expanded like never before! Surpassing their excellent AWAKE CD of two years ago, the nine tracks (plus an intro) are thrilling and highly imaginative. Vocalist Felix alternates between a chilling growl and calm crooning. Katrin's mood setting keyboard performances in Crematory are their trademark, giving the music it's brilliant, atmospheric edge. New guitarist Matthias Kechler has taken Lotte's place, and he fills the shoes in quite well, thank you. And let's not forget that dynamic rhythm section, consisting of Harald on bass and Markus Jullich on drums. The best track on ACT SEVEN is "Fly," a rocker with an intensive dance beat. "Moonlight" is also noteworthy, with Felix delivering one of his finest vocal performances. Other songs that stand out in this collection include "I Never Die" and "Memory." Although they have been around since 1991, Crematory are now making music that leaves a tremendous impact on the soul. This must be an exciting time for the band -- he's hoping that they bring their unique musical wizardry to the states in a live show soon! They are needed!

BELIEVE BY CREMATORY (Nuclear Blast Records)

Believe is album number eight for Crematory from Germany, and itís easily one of their best Ė if not most accessible. Having been on the goth-rock scene for nearly ten years now, Crematory has refined their sound over the last few years without compromising their chilling vocals or heavy atmospherics. There is little doubt that a song like "The Fallen" is destined for airplay all over Europe Ė it is extremely catchy and features a clear vocal throughout. The combination of Felix Staasí demonic growlings and Matthian Hechlerís assured singing make for a winning team. Also memorable is the haunting keyboard work of Katrin Goger, a sound that nearly dominates the entire album. Hechler still shines many times with driving guitar solos while drummer Markus Jullich and bassist Harald Heine make up a totally professional rhythm section. In addition to "The Fallen," other tracks that will become Crematory classics include "Time For Tears," "Act Seven," and "Endless." And be sure to stay with Believe until the last song, "Perils Of The Wind," which is an outstanding ballad that closes out the disc on an introspective note. Currently, Crematory have just as much in common with Depeche Mode as they do with Metallica Ė yet at the same time they have created a trademark sound that may always be instantly identifiable as their very own. Hereís hoping Crematory finally show up to play here in the States!


The Season Of Mist War series is a great idea Ė two up and coming metal bands share a split CD and the idea for each is to "present two new songs, to re-create one of the opposite groups, and to cover another." The contenders on War III are Cultus Sanguine and Seth.

First up is Cultus Sanguine, a goth-metal band whose chilling music is showcased with a fierce passion. "My Journey Is Long, But My Time Is Endless" is especially impressive and the Seth song they cover is entitled "LíHymn Au Vampire." Seth, on the other hand, presents a brutal brand of blackended death , showing that the French know a thing or two about the extreme metal genre. Along with their original songs, the Cultus Sanguine track they cover is entitled "The Calling Illusion." The real surprise of War III is the choice of another bandís cover Ė the honor going to "Behind The Wheel" by synth pop stars Depeche Mode. Cultus Sanguine perform the tune in an ethereal, drugged-out fashion while Seth rip the classic song apart in their usual heavier than hell style. Both bands emerge as winners on this one Ė great tunes and who would have thought Depeche Mode would lends themselves so well to the metal genre? Hereís hoping there are more of these War disc coming out and soon!


Surely a guilty pleasure for all headbangers, FOUR THE HARD WAY by Danger Danger shows a pop metal band who can still write those melodic, catchier-than-hell tunes. This being their ten year anniversary, Danger Danger is definitely "Still Kickin'," as indicated by the title of the first track. "Sick Little Twisted Mind" is the single, an extremely infectious song that one can picture being played to death on MTV. I've been singing this one over and over, much to the annoyance of others -- and myself. The string arrangements on this song are first rate. "Captain Bring Me Down" combines a melancholy edge with expert balladry, and is one of the top tracks on the disc. Another possible single is "Afraid Of Love," while "I Don't Need You" is filled with a hard rockin' attitude, dude! The CD closes out with "Comin' Home '98," featuring an acoustic guitar mixed in with cool electrical slide work. It's hard to believe that in 1999, Danger Danger continue to record albums that meet the standards of what they did when they were super successful. They are now in the process of recording their fifth CD and will continue to grace their fans with cool melodic pop metal well into the new millennium.


The compositions of Dargaard are darkly enchanting. Performed by musicians who normally inhabit brutal death metal acts such as Abigor and Heidenreich, Dargaard display a great deal of quiet strength and originality. Classical and chamber influences abound, the melodies being cathartic and atmospheric. Thereís the tender, melancholy vocals of Elisabeth Toriser, her rapturous voice meshing well with the astounding instrumentals presented by the multi-talented Tharen. In Nomine Aeternitatis is Dargaardís second release, and itís sure to become a favorite in dark wave circles. Chimes and a harp are used throughout the album as well as imaginative synthesizer interludes. Songs on this compelling work of art include "Underworld Domain," "Pantheon In Flames," "Only The Blind Can See," and "The Seas Of Oblivion." Dargaard play music one can contemplate and fantasize to. Take some time from your daily existence and lose yourself within Dargaardís gentle, somber dreamscapes. Highly recommended!

DARGAARD: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

HAVEN by DARK TRANQUILLITY (Century Media Records)

Although Dark Tranquillity may have formed back in 1989, the band has just now peaked in their musical career, first with the complex Projector and now with the mighty Haven. If only Metallica could put out an album this worthwhile. One of the leading bands in the Gothenburg heavy metal movement, Dark Tranquillity has recorded an album of highly accessible yet extremely brutal tunes. The first cut "Wonder At Your Feet" is one of their very best, a catchy infectious tune that is still very much METAL!!! "The Same" mixes dark metallic guitars with subtle, yet effective keyboard interludes. "Not Built To Last" is another memorable song destined to be a Dark Tranquillity classic while album closer "At Loss For Words" leaves the listener thoroughly intrigued as to what the band may have in store on their next recording. Each member has certainly matured as musicians and as songwriters. This is an exciting album that will grow on you with each and every listen Ė be sure to seek refuge within the metallic walls of Dark Tranquillityís Haven!!!


MONUMENTAL MUTILATIONS is the fourth album by the infamous Deathwitch, and it's definitely their best! Demonstrating why they are considered a top underground metal act, the new disc contains 13 tracks of sonic confusion and mayhem. Included on the album are two re-recorded Deathwitch classics. There are also two cover songs enclosed -- a Sepultura number and an old Bathory tune. The new Deathwitch tracks destined to be genre favorites include "Demonic Witch," "Total Cremation," and "Possessed Sadist." Featured in on all of this evil fun is founding member Nicke Terror, who also does time in the bands Sacramentum and Swordsmaster. Peter Pahmdal, who use to be with Dissection, is another willing participant as the Deathwith saga rolls relentlessly on. MONUMNETAL MUTILATIONS is Deathwitch in their finest hour -- a dark triumphant recording destined to become a favorite of many a black/death metal fan. This is intense, evil sh*t that will blow out your speakers while possessing your already weak, tormented soul. Hail Deathwitch or die!!!


Deceased was the first band to be signed by highly successful Relapse Records, and a decade later the band continues to kick yer butt with their ferocious brand of heavy fukking metal!!! Hailing from Arlington, Virginia, Deceased has dispatched another bunch of tasty terror tunes for the world to consume upon. Supernatural Addiction is a dynamic tribute to those classic movies and horror anthology shows that continue to frighten audiences to this day. Narrated by the rather affable King Fowley (heavy metal's answer to the equally lovable Crypt Keeper?), the top tracks include "The Premonition," "Dark Chilling Heartbeat," and "Elly's Dementia." This is Deceased at the very height of the creative powers, thrashing their terrifying soundtracks at you with fiendish glee. Supernatural Addiction is an absolute must for fans of extreme metal and classic horror flicks!

THE ART OF BLASPHEMY by DEMENTOR (Qabalah Productions)

Kicking off with the threatening atmospherics of "Devilís Rebirth," Dementorís newest CD is evil death metal insanity from the Czech Republic. THE ART OF BLASPHEMY is filled with harsh brutality and anti-Christian sentiments, spewed forth in songs such as "The False Faith," "Time For Death" and "The Eyes Of The Beast." The band is excellent, and may be compared favorable to such genre favorites as Immolation and Monstrosity. Disturbing and intensive, Dementor only demand that you play it loud for maximum effect!


The debut recording of Demons & Wizards is so great, youíll find it hard to believe the whole enterprise is just a side project! Featuring Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian, the self titled Demons & Wizards release is music grand tradition of 80ís monster metal rock! Updating it all for the 21st century, Demons & Wizards present highly memorable songs, stunning lead and harmony vocals, and top notch musicianship. Schaffer and Kursch certainly have a good deal of musical chemistry, embellishing on the trademark sounds of their respective bands. Kursch is an outstanding vocalist and delivers the mystical lyrics with a fierce passion. Schaffer writes all of the music and thereís not a clunker in the bunch! Whether itís a hard rockiní number or a ballad (both of which may occur within the same song as well), these guys excel! From the powerful opening "Heaven Denies," to the acoustic "Poor Manís Crusade" on through the haunting "My Last Sunrise," Demons & Wizards will be appreciated by all fans of power metal the world over!

DEMONS & WIZARDS: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


I saw these guys perform last year in a supporting slot for Monstrosity at The Cocodrie in San Francisco. With Monstrosity being a no-show, it was suddenly up to Desecration to be the headliners. Needless to say, these British death metal wackos blew the f*cking walls off the joint (and gained a good deal of new fans in the process)! Their sound and fury translates well on record, as their latest effort, INHUMAN, is one of the best death metal albums to be released in this millennium so far! This band is heavier than hell, dishing out such vile tracks as "Life Of Gore," "Insane Savagery," and "Asphyxiate On Blood." The dynamic, guttural vocals are spewed out by the irrepressible Ollie. The rest of the Desecration clan offers some of the best examples of musicianship the genre has. The music is insane and the lyrics are sick and brutal! These guys are just as good as Cannibal Corpse and the aforementioned Monstrosity and deserve to be one of the death metal elite. If you like this style of music at all, check out INHUMAN by Desecration and prepare for a British death metal invasion!


Just in time for Destructionís awesome comeback album All Hell Breaks Loose, SPV America has re-released several classic Destruction recordings, including this Best Of collection. A two disc set featuring 27 songs, both live and studio tracks are contained within, clearly demonstrating why Destruction was/is one of the most influential thrash metal acts. Featuring songs recorded between 1984-1989, these guys were clearly Germanyís answer to Metallica. Stand-out tracks that will remain genre favorites include "Total Desaster," "Mad Butcher," "United By Hatred," and "Bestial Invasion." Schmien and the boys have an impressive back catalog that will now be available here in the States, and at an affordable price too thanks to the folks at SPV! The Best Of compilation was originally released in 1992 and remains a testament that there was more to the metal 80ís than just Dokken, Slaughter and Poison! A truly great band whose music will excite metalheads for years to come.

ANTHEMS OF SORROW by DIABOLI (Full Moon Productions)

Hailing from Finland, Diaboli is a two man project, featuring Grimnír on vocals and mastermind Pete on just about every instrument you can imagine. The music on Anthems Of Sorrow is the grimmest of Black Metal that fans of early Darkthrone and Burzum are sure to cherish. Pete handles all the musical interludes admirably, delivering sweeping, penetrating sounds of infernal noise. There are long instrumental passages that take the listener on a chilling journey through the dark recesses of the mind Ė one can almost imagine tripping through a Finnish wilderness going mad to the strains of these Anthems Of Sorrow. And driving it all home are the passionate growls of Grimnír, reciting the fiery lyrics with a mighty show of strength. Fans of primitive Black Metal must add Diaboliís latest to their collection. This is the true underground of Black Metal, classic cult material that will be an inspiration for many. Stand-out tracks include "Longing To Die," "Frozen Soul," and "Eternal Path Of Depression." Outstanding and unforgettable.


IN DARKNESS LET ME DWELL is stunning work, sure to become a favorite amongst fans of the thriving dark wave movement. The unique sound consists of classical music mixed with ambient overtures and enchanted vocalizations. The lyrics are derived from the works of Percy Bysshe Shelly and John Dowland. The male vocals are performed in a grand fashion by Richard Lederer, who is best known as Protector from the dynamic Black metal band Summoning. Tanis Borsley contributes the beautiful female vocals, filled with tenderness and an underlying sorrow. Their voices interweave well with the stylish soundtrack of sweeping musical interludes and choruses. IN DARKNESS LET ME DWELL will appeal to many, and should be sought out by those who want to taken on a wondrous musical adventure. Let Die Verbannten Kinder Eva sweep you off you feet and transport you into the depths of another world!

DIE VERBANNTEN KINDER EVAS: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

THE HAND AND THE SWORD by DOMINION3 (Draenor Productions)

Dominion3 is the industrial/electronic project featuring the talents of Tharen and Elisabeth of Dargaard. Just as creative as the neo-classical Dargaard, Dominion3 provides compelling soundscapes that will reverberate throughout your stereo. The moments of gentle ambience and sweet female chantings are offset by the pulsating beats and black metal vocals. Each of the nine compositions are stunning and vibrant, with "The Angelís Delusion," "Immortal Reign," and "With The Strength Of Aeons" being especially memorable. Hailing from Austria, the music presented by Dominion3 is challenging and highly artistic, and should impress those who like their electronic music laced with a good deal of thought and imagination. The Hand And The Sword by Dominion3 is a fantastic debut recording that is well worth seeking out! A world of enchantment awaitsÖ


Hailing from Massachusetts, Drained present a fantastic mix of metal and hardcore and are bound to become favorites of anyone into either of these styles of music. The lyrics are deeply personal, filled with wise insight and performed with fiery passion. The music is guaranteed to set mosh pits into hyperactivity. SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF opens with "All Will Fail," a mighty anthem that is sure to be an HC classic. Other tracks that burn with excitement include "Take My Eyes," "When You Give," and the dynamic "World Of Sin." The band dedicates the album to "everyone who has lost someone close to them," and to "be thankful you had that time together" -- by the end of this CD, you will indeed be drained -- and very thankful that an album this good exists and thrives in today's hard music scene.


Drottnar are one of the best new Black Metal bands I've heard in quite awhile. Yet another bunch of guys with Norwegian roots, their debut album Spiritual Battle is a combination of two demo tapes: one they recorded last year as Drottnar and another they released as Vitality a few years back. These guys are just as good as Darkthrone and Satyricon and just about anyone performing quality Black Metal these days. The one factor that may shock a few people are their decidedly pro-Christian messages. These lyrics are brutal and guaranteed to disturb any card-carrying member of the Satanist party. The simple fact is that these guys are awesome musically -- songs like "A White Realm" and "Natten Pa Harmmageddon" are some of the best Black Metal anthems I've heard in quite some time. Whether you agree with their message or not, the fact remains that Drottnar play challenging Black Metal that you'll remember for quite some time. Check out their web page at http://home.c2i.net/blind/drottnar/ to learn more about the mighty Drottnar!

DROTTNAR: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Dysanchely is a chilling doom metal band from Slovakia, whose latest album Songs Of Sorrow is being released by the Russian-based Oupiric Productions. One of the main reasons why I wanted to review Songs Of Sorrow is that it features the beautiful, melancholic vocals of Thalarionís Nela Horvathova. Not only is Ms. Horvathovaís contribution outstanding, but Dysanchely also features dueling killer guitar work, a dynamic rhythm section, and two fiery black and death vocalists. Moody and intense, Dysanchely deliver such thrilling tracks as "The Dark Lord" and "Ecstasy Of Death." And their cover of the Kiss classic "God Of Thunder" is absolutely inspired, featuring the malevolent vocals of Lojzo Horak. After witnessing the bleak visionary assaults of bands like Dysanchely and Thalarion, there should be little doubt that Slovakia has a thriving metal scene that the rest of the world will come to notice and appreciate. All this, and Nela Horvathovaís exquisite, emotional renderings Ė a wondrous, expressive voice that one can only hope to hear a lot more of in the future. Fans of the darkest of metal should do what they must to acquire Songs Of Sorrow by Dysanchely. Inquire to oupiric@mail.ru and demand your own copy today!


Don't let the band moniker fool you -- Ebony Tears may sound like the name of a whiney goth band, but they are one of the most extreme black/death metal outfits you'll ever hear. Filled with brutal vocals and intensive guitar work, these Swedish dudes have recorded an impressive piece of work with A HANDFUL OF NOTHING. The legendary "second album slump" went by Ebony Tears thoroughly unoticed. The music is like a speeding train coming through your home at 200 miles an hour while the lyrics are bitter and very introspective. As more metal bands are beginning to sound suspiciously like Depeche Mode, Ebony Tears do not compromise, showing why clever scribes initially put the "heavy" into the "metal." On Black Sun Records, Necroplois is distributing this dics in the States, so hopefully we won't be ripped off by extortionant import prices. Play this f*cking thing loud and enjoy as your ears bleed from the wreckless sounds of Ebony Tears!


If you like the early works of Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, then Eclipse from Poland is a band well worth checking into. DORSACHARMS VENOMOUS COLOURS is a debut album for Eclipse, and it's a work of mighty symphonic Black Metal. Keyboards and Yngwie-like guitars mix with a coolness of ease, fired up by passionate male vocals, demonic drums and an enchanted female songstress. Fronted by Chors (vocals, bass) and Daamrs (backing vocals and guitars), Eclipse and an array of guest musicians present a thrilling work of art that instantly places them near the upper pleateax of the Black Metal elite. Only time will tell if their DORSACHARMS... release will be the start of a great metal legacy or a mere stroke of beginner's luck. I'm betting on the legacy part myself...


Founded by Brian Griffin of Broken Hope, Em Sinfonia perform compelling, very lush doom metal. There are 8 different musicians involved in this project, including a violin player and both a male and female and vocalist. The lyrics are grim but romantic, and the music is performed with a good deal of passion and creativity. The four songs contained on IN MOURNINGS SYMPHONY are brilliant compositions -- worlds above what you'd normally expect from this genre. Based out of Chicago, Em Sinfonia take you into their world, and for a bit over 30 minutes, musical rapture ensues. And while the sounds are quite heavy, it's all fairly easy on the ears yet quite stimulating to the mind and sense. Griffin and his crew are all accomplished musicians, and have presented us with a shimmering wall of sound that you'll want to climb up and explore many times over. Congrats to all involved with the Em Sinfonia project on a stunning, fully realized effort.


Here's a dark metal band hailing from Memphis, Tennessee out of all places. Epoch Of Unlight combine sinister, gothic lyrics with a bleak, relentless sound. Heavy and driving, the band creates a brilliant atmosphere of impending doom, remaining ferocious and focused at all times. The musicianship is excellent and, in spite of their chosen locale, there is not a country twang to be heard. The End Records has discovered another worthy band to place on their eclectic list of underground metal.


While I was a huge fan of Even Songís first album Path Of The Angels, their latest effort is a staggering step forward! Those who thought the earlier Path a bit too poppy for their metallic tastes are sure to enjoy the gothic, dramatic heaviness contained within Of Manís First Disobedience. Symphonic and highly creative, the story of Adam and Eveís banishment from the Garden Of Eden is told as a grand, rock opera-like fashion. Fans of such bands as Peccatum and Source Of Tide are sure to thrill to the sweeping musical meanderings of Even Song. For starters, the deceptively sweet singing by Ms. Agnes Toth is offset beautifully by Mihaly Szaboís sinister male lead vocals. Toth sets up a chilling atmosphere with her colorful keyboard work while Szabo and lead guitarist Gabor Olah supply a ferocious wall of sound. Gabor Vegh (drums) and Gergely Cseh (bass) make up the outstanding rhythm section. Hailing from Hungary, Even Song is a gothic metal band destined to become the favorite of many. Of Manís First Disobedience is an unforgettable listening experience that youíll want to relive many times over. Highly recommended!

PATH OF THE ANGELS by EVEN SONG (Displeased Records)

Even Song are a doom metal band from Hungary who perform highly personal music with a lot of style and grace. The songs are dramatic and emotional, featuring both male and female vocal performances. This is hypnotic, expansive metal that penetrates the soul. A bit like My Dying Bride and The Gathering, this Hungarian metal outfit really challenge the genre with songs such as ďThe Fall Of Archaic Heaven,Ē ďSerpent,Ē and the brilliant title track. The vocals are Agnes Toth are soothing and really mesh well with the dark death metal-like meanderings of Mihaly Szabo. The musicianship on PATH OF THE ANGELS is first rate, with animated keyboards, searing guitars, and an effective rhythm section Even if metal isnít your thing, if you like your music filled with the imagery of beauty and passion, then go down this PATH OF THE ANGELS by Even Song and prepared to be thrilled!

EVENSONG: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Based out of Orange County, Fatal Liquidation is well on their way to becoming one of the U.S. death metal elite. Their demo CD entitled SURRENDER YOUR SOUL consists of four punishing brutal songs filled with gore and mayhem. Highlights include "Bits and Pieces" dealing with the horrors of war, and "Body Of Knowledge" which is a tale of alien abduction. Horror movie samples cleverly precede each song, lending to the overall mood to this vile landscape of noise and death. The talented musicians involved include Jason Dissinger on guitars and vocals, Steve Thomas on bass and Jose Veyna on drums. It's only a matter of time before these guys are signed. Visit the FATAL LIQUIDATION HOME PAGE for more info.

PHRENUM by FISTER (Extract Records)

Fister are here and they are gonna kick yer butt! A three piece "mob" from London, they are all over the map in style, but donít worry Ė itís all heavier than hell! PHRENUM is their debut and itís a great album to listen to as you bang your head up into a bloody pulp! Reminiscent of early Korn and Biohazard material, Fister is out to create heavy music that stands out all on itís own. And it certainly works, starting off with the abrasive vocalizations and searing guitar work of STD. Jes on bass and Rooney on drums are an out of control rhythm section that come across like a sonic boom in the darkness of night. Tracks like "Apathy In The U.K.," "No Apology," and "DISTURbD" are destined to be live favorites. This is one energetic band who will win a wide variety of fans over with their challenging, subversive musical delivery. If you are into heavy music at all, take a chance on the mighty Fister! For more info, check out the FISTER WEB SITE and prepare for the assault!


Forest Of Impaled introduced the world to their hellish musical visions in the Fall of 1992, but are only seeing their full length debut being released now, thanks to the folks at Red Stream Records. Forest Of Impaled play Black Metal mixed with punishing death and European influences. The tunes featured on Demonvoid will blast through your head with the ferocity of a freight train headed into apocalyptic damnation! The guitar work is technical and furious while the rhythm section defies anything that is human. And the blasphemous lyrics are spewed out with a keen sense of fury and violence. An impressive first effort from a band who, after all this time, is ready to take over the scene with their extreme Black Metal compositions! Order a copy of Demonvoid by Forest Of Impaled and prepare to be thoroughly impressed! Hereís hoping these guys tour and continue to assault the world with their profane cries of sin and blasphemy!


Forlorn is a band from Norway who play a unique brand of Viking Metal. Throwing keyboards into the mix, the traditional guitar-heavy sound has an eerie, sort of futuristic feel. Opus III - Ad Caletis Res is their third album, and what a powerful, bombastic production it is! The vocals consist of ferocious Black Metal rantings and some portions of clear singing and haunting Viking chants. Containing lyrics which deal with old Scandinavian principles, the entire recording nevertheless blazes with ideas on what this style of metal should strive for in the 21st Century. The musicianship is first rate and the songs really take you into Forlornís world of mystery and adventure. Tops cuts on the disc include "Distant Worlds & Distant Moons," "Legends Of Creation," and "Shadow Cult." If bands like Forlorn are the future of metal, then consider the genre in fairly good shape.

IF_THEN_ELSE by THE GATHERING (Century Media Records)

The Gathering prior studio recording, How To Measure A Planet? was a masterpiece Ė a stunning double disc set that set many a fanís imagination in flight. So how to top an album that was recorded at creativityís high? Well, if you donít count the live Superheat release of earlier this year, all new material may be found on If_Then_Else, a single disc of 11 songs. Needless to say, the band continues to strive for musical perfection and delivers a sonic wall of bliss and electricity throughout a good deal of If_Then_Else.

"Rollercoaster" starts to proceedings off, a deceptively upbeat piece of thoughtful melancholy and hope. Then "Shot To Pieces" rocks you into hyper-space, and from there, all thoughts of The Gathering even attempting to make a disappointing album are all but gone. Anneke Van Giersbergen has one of the most beautiful, distinctive voices in rock that works well in expresses her compelling lyrics. As usual, the musicians are first rate, contributing a sense of wonderment and energy to the lush musical soundtracks. Other stand-out tracks on If_Then_Else include "Colorado Incident," "Amity," and "Analog Park." Just like itís mammoth predecessor, expect If_Then_Else to turn up in many a top ten list at the end of the year.

SUPERHEAT by THE GATHERING (Century Media Records)

HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET? was one of the truly great albums to be released in 1999. The Gathering even toured America for the disc, stopping over at The Key Club in Hollywood to play an astounding set. It was only a matter of time until a live album would emerge, and within the first month of 2000, one will. Entitled SUPERHEAT, this is a documentation of two shows performed in Europe that clearly demonstrate the magic and artistry of a live Gathering performance. Selections appearing on SUPERHEAT were from their last three albums, with highlight tracks being "The Big Sleep," "Rescue Me," "Liberty Bell," and "Sand And Mercury." The vocals, as performed by Anneke van Giersbergen, are hypnotic and powerful. As usual, the musicianship is top notch. The band sounds a bit like Slowdive mixed with Jesus And Mary Chain these days, with tons of intensity and passion to spare. Even though SUPERHEAT is one of the first live recordings to be released in 2000, itís fairly safe to predict that it will be one of the yearís best! Highly recommended!!!


Ferocious, pulsating and wildly disturbing, BLOODY BLASPHEMY by God Dethroned is another thrilling entry into the current Black Metal sweepstakes. Also combining elements of thrash and death, God Dethroned's tunes are a mighty dose of venomous energy. Most of the songs deal with grisly stories of horror and death, told with a morbid, anti-religious stance. Founding member Henri Sattler is the vocalist, delivering the vile lyrics with much passion! There are many moments of inspired playing by all band members. Several of the songs will stay in your head much like a memorable scene from a good horror flick. Stand-out tracks include the vengeance released within "The Executioner's Protocol," the grand and sweeping doom epic "Soul Capture 1562" and the highly controversial title cut (which has something to do with Jesus and a cannibalistic follower). If you are easily offended, stay away from this one -- but if you're into chilling tales with anti-religious overtones and intense musical deliveries, then BLOODY BLASPHEMY by God Dethroned is a must for your evil little CD collection. Hail God Dethroned!

GOD DETHRONED: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

RESURRECTION by GODGORY (Nuclear Blast Records)

Influenced by the likes of Tiamat and Cemetary, Godgory play metal that can be sweeping one moment and then ferocious as hell the next. Hailing from Sweden, Godgory's newest CD RESURRECTION is a grand mixture of musical styles that somehow manage to work as a satifying whole. The title track is first, a symphonic doom opus that fans will play over and over again. "Crimson Snow" is a real thrasher, containing the thoughts of a serial killer who is sentenced to die. "Adultery" is acoustic yet quite intense, relaying the somber story of a young prostitute. Other tracks that stand-out include their excellent cover of the Accept classic "Princess Of The Dawn" and the ethereal madness of "Waiting For Lunacy To Find Me." Featuring the talents of Matte Andersson on vocals and Erik Andersson on drums (they are not brothers incidentially) and the best in studio musicians, Godgory is now solidifying a permanent line-up and plan to tour. With their inventive ideas regarding what modern metal should entail, Godgory should win over new fans both live and on CD.


ELEMENTAL CHANGES by Golgotha is the most intriguing goth-metal album I've ever heard! It's dark without being stagnant, breathing new life into a genre that is beginning to show it's age. Golgotha is one of the most innovative bands the scene has to offer, right up there with goth-legends My Dying Bride and Crematory. Based out of Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Golgotha dare to be different, and have recorded an album of 11 highly creative compositions! Basically, "Dark Tears" has got to be the best goth-metal song I've ever heard. "Emotionless" and "The Way Of Confusion" also thrill and entice. Vocalist Amon is a dynamic performer, delivering the powerful lyrics with passion and ferocity. Their awesome interpretation of the Kiss classic "Love Gun" is a real stunner! The musicianship in Golgotha is first rate, with chilling keyboards, haunting guitar interludes, and threatening beats from a compelling rhythm section. I've been playing ELEMENTAL CHANGES over and over again -- the tunes are memorable and the feelings spewed forth are devastating, yet ultimately inspiring. Let's get this band over to the States and see just what they can do live!

EXCALIBUR by GRAVE DIGGER (Nuclear Blast Records)

While Grave Digger have been around since 1984, they continue to record fantastic heavy metal albums in their own grand and eloquent fashion. EXCALIBUR is no exception, filled with memorable anthems and superb musicianship. Focusing on the historical tale of King Arthur and his Round Table, this concept piece is a thrill from beginning to end. In addition to the regular band, guest artists include medieval folk metal group Subway To Sally who provide a soundtrack of mysticism to the proceedings Ė plus Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian and Piet Sielck of Iron Savior provide vocal support on "Mordredís Song." There are many cuts on EXCALIBUR destined to become Grave Digger classics including "Pendragon," "Avalon," "The Round Table (Forever)," and the ambitious title song. Serving as a final part of a medieval trilogy, EXCALIBUR is a must for those who enjoy the classic sounds of spirited heavy metal!

GRAVE DIGGER: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Griffin from Norway combine styles of metal that donít always mesh well together, and come up with a powerful sound that should inspire many. Imagine a bastard child belonging to Entombed and Anathema, and youíre just beginning to comprehend Griffin. Wasteland Serenades is a diverse effort, a debut recording from a band who can keep you guessing, and most of all interested. Tommy Sebastian has a gravelly vocal style that works effectively with the compelling, metallic score. Ex-Bloodthorn lead guitarist Kai Nergaard dominates the proceeding with brilliant musical ideas while the other members play with a good deal of professionalism and innovation. Bound to confuse many upon first listenings, Wasteland Serenades will become a favorite of the more adventurous metal enthusiast who like their styles mixed, lively and unpredictable. Having recently toured with the mighty Mayhem in Europe, expect Griffin to go far in the underground metal scene.

6106 by GUIDANCE OF SIN (Mighty Music)

While this may be their second album, the legendary creative slump a band goes through with their sophomore release has not affected Guidance Of Sin in the least. 6106 features melodic yet very intensive death metal. Hailing from Sweden, Guidance Of Sin features former members of A Canarous Quintet, and are destined to win many new fans with their brutal, yet catchier than hell visions of death and destruction. Included on 6106 are nine original compositions plus an awesome cover of the Motorhead classic "Killed By Death." Those into In Flames and Soilwork will really enjoy what Guidance Of Sin has to offer, as these guys will surely rank up there with the Swedish metal elite in no time at all. "Manís Journey," "Donít Let God Come Near Me," and "The Primeval Myth Of A Vampyre" are the standout cuts. Another slab of cool metal brutality from the guys at Mighty Music!


With Phil Fasciana (Malevolent Creation) and Rob Barrett (Cannibal Corpse) as founding members, it comes as little surprise that Hate Plow spew out some of the most intense, violent death metal youíre liely to experience. Hailing from South Florida, Hate Plowís early years were marred with tragedy, with original drummer spending some quality time in jail and then being found dead at his home from smoke inhalation shortly after his release. Dave Culross (Malevolent Creation, ex-Suffocation) took over the drum kit duties, and The Only Law Is Survival finally saw the stench-filled light of day. Fueled with a grinding deathcore assault and lyrical comments on the horrors of society, The Only Law Is Survival stands out well when compared with the two famous bands Hate Plow members are/were members of. Hate Plow will pulverize the listener into submission with brutal tracks such as "Shattered By Disease," "Random Acts Of Violence," "Addicted To Porn," and the killer title cut. Florida death metal is alive and well thanks to uncompromising kick-ass bands like Hate Plow!


Hecate Enthroned is back, in their classic over-the-top glory. Featuring Jon (ex-Cradle Of Filth) on vocals and an army of talented musicians, Hecated Enthroned play symphonic black metal that penetrates the mind. The keyboard passages are inspired while the mad chantings by main man Jon are ferocious and strong. The sound is atmospheric and moody, bringing the depths of hell to your house in all it's magnificent, decadent glory. The band has grown tremendously since their first recording, and are bound to win over many fans of the genre with this effort. Like a soundtrack to a campy horror film, DARK REQUIEMS AND UNSILENT MASSACRE is best listened to in low light while thinking those evil, unpleasant thoughts you can't even tell your best friend. Congrats to the HE guys fora fully realized venture into darkness.

METAL JUKEBOX by HELLOWEEN (Sanctuary Records)

Who would have thought that Helloween would record the most diverse cover album of the year? Although this collection is entitled METAL JUKEBOX, all sorts of styles and artists are explored, interpreted in the grand Helloween fashion. The CD opens with "He's A Woman, She's A Man" by The Scorpions, a classic metal track that Helloween performs with might and force. From there, the unpredictability of METAL JUKEBOX fires up with a vengeange! Abba's "Lay All Your Love On Me" is played with a fierce intensity while "Space Oddity" by David Bowie is given a eerie yet faithful note-by-note rendition. "Hocus Pocus" by the highly influential prog-rock band Focus is not an easy song to perform, but Helloween succeed wildly -- especially with the dynamic over-the-top vocals by Andi Deris. Other tracks of note given the Helloween treatment include "From Out Of Nowhere" by Faith No More, "White Room" by Cream, and "All My Loving" by The Beatles! It sounds like Helloween had a lot of fun recording this one, and it certainly is infectious. Instead of doing the obvious speed metal greats, Helloween have selected songs from quite a few genres. An intriguing collection to be sure, one that will please their current fan base and even gain them a few new converts. Check METAL JUKEBOX out and prepare to be thoroughly impressed and surprised!


Himinbjorg are based out of France, and could easily became a genre favorite. Starting off with classical guitar and soothing wind effects in the background, In The Raven's Shadow eventually turns into a Black Metal adventure of expansive proportions. The lyrics are based on Pagan and Viking mythology, accompanied by a thrilling musical score. After an overture, In The Raven's Shadow kicks into high gear with the mysterious sounding "Thiazi's Oyne," an exciting opus that combines clear vocals with ferocious black metal articulations. "The Inverted Dimension" brings us further into Himinbjorg's chilling world and there's no turning back -- and you really won't want to. "Rising" is an intense cut that ends on a somber note with acoustic guitar, warm chantings and assorted birds chirping away ominously. Another highlight is "The Voice Of Blood," showing the band at the height at their majestic powers. The music throughout the disc is superb, filled with creative passages and dynamic atmospherics. With most tracks clocking in at 8 minutes or more, it's easy to lose yourself within the stories that Himinbjorg present so well through their dark symphonies. An underground classic that all fans of Black Metal must acquire.

HIMINBJORG: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Mysterious and bombastic, Hollenthon's debut album is THE best Black Metal recording you'll hear this year. Featuring the brains and talent behind the controversial Pungent Stench, Martin Schirenc and company take you places where the genre has not dared to go before. Innovative melodies, ethnic rhythms and hummable choruses abound, yet DOMUS MUNDI is too obscure to even be called commercial. This could be the soundtrack for a half mad horseman riding through the desert in search of his dreams (or nightmares). The production on DOMUS MUNDI is stunning, containing exotic musical instruments, monk-like chants and other melodramatic soundscapes. Nothing in the world could prepare Black Metal fans and detractors for the sheer brilliance that is Hollenthon. Breezing even past Emperor in the creativity department, DOMUS MUNDI only proves that Black Metal is far from the dead musical horse many proclaim it to be. A visionary piece of work destined to be a classic. Best tracks include "Enrapture - Hinc Illae Lacrimae, "Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar," "Homage - Magni Nominis Umbra" and "Eclipse - Vita Nova."


At the turn of the new millennium, it's cool to note that bands like Immolation are out assaulting the world with their unholy, prophetic meanderings. This death metal band from New York delivers a monsterous dose of intense darkness. It's a mighty wall of fury indeed, loaded with Satanic imagery and brilliant, metallic soundscapes. Immolation has grown quite a bit over their 13 year history, and FAILURES FOR GODS easily shows why they are considered to be at the top of the death metal heap. Like a soundtrack for the Armageddeon (the one predicted in the Bible, not the stupid movie), Immolation take the listener on a ride into their own personal pit of hellfire. Guaranteed to offend the Gores and the Fartwells, FAILURES FOR GODS is like a sonic boom in the night -- an experience of pure evil that you are not soon to forget!

DAMNED IN BLACK by IMMORTAL (Osmose Productions)

Immortal have been around for nearly a decade now, and have a solid back catalog of material. Add their latest effort Damned In Black to the collection, for itís easily Immortalís best album yet! Combining the Black Metal sound with an obvious attention to showmanship, Immortal can easily lay claim to being the most exciting, animated band this genre has to offer. Based out of Bergen, Norway, these three guys deliver the goods in a loud, relentless fashion, pounding the listener with their dark, imaginative tales. The current line-up of Immortal includes founding member Abbath on guitars and vocals, Iscariah on bass, and Horgh on drums. Although original member Demonaz no longer appears with the band due to an arm injury, he contributes many of the grim lyrics. "Triumph," "The Darkness That Embrace Me," and the killer title track are destined to become Immortal fan favorites. I fully expect Damned In Black to show up in many a metal fanís Top Ten list at the year end. If you havenít grabbed up your copy of Damned In Black yet, just what in the hell are you waiting for? All fans of Black Metal will cherish the intense nightmare visions featured on Immortalís latest classic.


Evil and mind numbing, In Aeternum present Black Metal music at itís most extreme. Combining the expert musical meanderings of Sabbath with the brutality of Venom, In Aeternum bring to the table a ferocious collection of tunes aptly entitled FOREVER BLASPHEMY. "My life belongs to the dark side, I was born to crush the will of god," growls vocalist David Larsson to the super intensive playing of his band mates. Driving and filled with demonic sentiments, In Aeternum demand your undivided attention, taking you on a relentless ride through hellish delights. There are sparks of pure Black Metal genius recorded on this, their debut release for Necropolis Records. This one will have your banging your head and hailing the horned one in no time!


Whether they know it or not, Jesus Martyr and and their label Repulse Records have a brilliant work of art on their hands. SUDAMERICAN PORNO contains 13 tracks of powerful noise that will jolt the senses and stimulate the mind. Based out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jesus Martyr combine ferocious death metal with the industrial wasteland, coming up with an exciting, distinctive sound. With lyrics inspired by religion and the great philosophers, Jesus Martyr want you to think as they bash away at your nervous system with their brutal musical assaults. If you can take it, Jesus Martyr is a thrilling listening experience that you'll want to hear many times over in your player. Recommended.


Serving as a follow-up to last yearís cult favorite Distant In Solitary Night release, Heaven In Flames by Judas Iscariot shows a good deal of musical growth while still spitting out the most primitive of Black Metal. Donít expect a lot of polished musicianship -- just infernal hatred, blasphemy and cool intensive atmospherics! Fronted by the diabolic Akhenaten, the propaganda of Judas Iscariot chills you to the very bone. The descent begins with "In Eternal Kingdom Of Fire" and continues relentlessly until the final instrumental track entitled "An Ancient Starry Sky." For those of you who donít know, Akhenaten has left the States, heading for Europe to seek others sympathetic to his sinister ideals. He may even get a proper touring band together. In the meantime, those into the very grimmest and extremes of cult Black Metal will want to check out this, and other releases by Judas Iscariot. Heaven In Flames will burn through and ultimately devour your soul -- and youíll love every torturous minute of it! See ya in hell! Be sure to tell them that Akhenaten sent you there...

KEVORKIAN (Self Titled CD Demo)

Kevorkian is a band from Boston who play some of the most intense metal your feeble ears will ever have the benefit of hearing. Their self titled four song demo is heavier than hell and should get them noticed by both death metal fans and indie labels. This is searing music that penetrates through your brain with the relentless strength of a chainsaw massacre. One cut above what's normally expected in the genre, Kevorkian distinguish themselves with ferocious, jazz-like time signatures, super guttural vocals and crazy-ass guitar solos thrown in for good measure. The songs contained on the Kevorkian demo are primitive, raw, yet filled with tons of imagination. The Kevorkian horde consists of Brad Kensinger on vocals and guitar, Brendan Kinchla on bass, Neal Davis on guitars and vocals, and Chris Janus on hyper-demonic drum action. Check out the KEVORKIAN HOME PAGE for additional info.


After a rather gothic keyboard interlude, a crazed person comes out of nowhere and bellows "there is no god!" Then the party begins! The moniker Killengod pretty much sums up what this band is all about. This is Brutal Death with a hint of Black Metal thrown in for good measure. Based out of Queensland in Australia, Killengod exude an intensity that will surely endear them to headbangers all over this rotten land. Playing at a breakneck pace, the tunes found on INTO THE ANCIENT MOON are a thrill to encounter. The songs have real character, with highlights being "Thirteenth Universe," "Dominated Spirit," and "Blasphemous Priest." If the band name alone doesnít grab your eye, the music will surely grab you by the frigginí throat dude! There are moments of creative genius to be found on INTO THE ANCIENT MOON - all fans of extreme music must check into what Killengod has to offer the world of rock and metal!


Although Killing Machineís self-titled album may be their debut recording, each musician is a veteran of the heavy metal scene. With individuals boasting membership in groups such as WASP, Belladonna, Loudness, and The Yngwie Malmsteen Band, Killing Machine is a driving, professional force to be reckoned with! The group plays old fashion heavy metal and they are outstanding at what they achieve. Michael Vescera has a classical trained voice in the grand tradition of Dio and Halford, and can really belt out a monstrous tune! Guitar legend Yngwie even featured Vesceraís vocals on two of his solo projects. Peter Scheithauer shreds like a madman on guitar while bassist Mike Duda and drummer Stet Howland provide the dynamic rhythm section. The ten tracks featured are all stand-outs, including "Judgement Day," "No Way Out," "In Your Face," "Vicious Circle," and the memorable title cut. Killing Machine recalls the glory days of heavy metal and manages to bring it all back with a hellish vengeance. So bang your heads to the mighty Killing Machine or get the fuck out of the way before you get ran overÖ

FOREVER AUTUMN by LAKE OF TEARS (Black Mark Production)

I have been waiting for what seems like ages for this CD to be released in the States. Their prior release A CRIMSON COSMOS is one of my favorite albums of the 90's, so with both anticipation and dread, I really wanted to hear just what they could do to top themselves. The new Lake Of Tears album is called FOREVER AUTUMN. And while itís not as melodramatic as their earlier releases, the disc is filled with sweet, melancholy tunes in the grand tradition of Pink Floyd and My Dying Bride. It is a quieter world Lake Of Tears perform in now, filled with mysticism and heartbreak. Daniel Brennare and his group of musicians are a talented, resourceful lot, taking the listener into an introspective, soul searching journey. Whether itís the sentiments of "Hold On Tight," the frightening mechanics of "The Homecoming" or the anthem-like strains of "So Fell The Rain," Lake Of Tears write wondrous songs that will be retained within the memory of all those who venture out to listen.

TAKE A LOOK by LEADFOOT (The Music Cartel)

Leadfoot are one of the best bands the stoner/retro-rock movement has to offer -- they play with an excess of sludge and distortion and perform kick-ass songs that stay in your fried brain for ages! Leadfoot feature two former members of Corrosion Of Conformity -- Karl Agell (vocals) and Phil Swisher (bass) recorded on COC's influential BLIND effort which was released in 1991. Starting Leadfoot up in 1993, TAKE A LOOK is their sophomore effort and it's both raw and impressive. The Leadfoot party kicks into high gear with "Redline," an infectious track that should find it's way onto more adventurous radio playlists. "Certain To Be Wrong" is high energy rock and roll with tons of psychedelic guitar thrown in. "Loose Cannon" has a classic rock feel that is endearing while "Unkind" contines Leadfoot into the underground hit single direction. And take this ride all the way through, making sure to trip out on the very strange final track entitled "Panic Attack." The best release from The Music Cartel to date, Leadfoot make hard rock fun again -- there is little doubt that many new fans will TAKE A LOOK into this exciting new band. So bang your friggin' heads and party on to the sounds of Leadfoot!

MASTER CONTROL by LIEGE LORD (Metal Blade Records)

Liege Lord recently had all of their near-legendary heavy metal albums re-released by Metal Blade Records. MASTER CONTROL was originally recorded in 1988, and truly stands the test of time. Metal is on the rise again, and old fans and new converts alike have plenty to be excited about with Liege Lord. An outstanding, if under-rated album at the time, MASTER CONTROL presents a band at the height of their creative powers, playing a type of music that will last throughout this metal age. With stand-out tracks such as "Fear Itself," "Eye Of The Storm," "Feel The Blade," not to mention the dynamic title cut, Liege Lord continue to thrill while challenging the listener with their compelling tunes and fine musicianship. Performing with much passion and energy, Liege Lord's classic recordings may be enjoyed once again thanks to the resourceful folks at Metal Blade. This is power metal in it's finest hour, and it will surely inspire fans for many years to come.


The third hellacious chapter of the mighty Lord Belial has finally hit our shores via Metal Blade Records. If you thought ENTER THE MOONLIGHT GATE was brutal and evil, wait until you hear UNHOLY CRUSADE. Sixty minutes of pulsating, punishing blasphemy, the album is a declaration of war against all that is good and Christian. This is the true soundtrack for the forthcoming Armegeddon. Angels get crucified and turned into demons, and heaven is thoroughly pillaged by the warriors of Lord Belial Ė excellent musicians who go by the names of Dark (guitars, vocals), Vassago (guitar), Bloodlord (bass), and Sin (drums). Tracks that will burn deep into your stereo system include the thrashing "War Of Hate," the grim and somber "Lord Of Evil Spirits," the fiery "Death Is The Gate," and the blasting title track. In the bitter end, "And Heaven Eternally Burns" leaves the listener beat into submission, fully knowing that theyíve just experienced one of the most powerful Black Metal albums of all time. Melodic yet hyper-intensive, Unholy Crusade should bring Lord Belial into the upper echelon of the Black Metal kingdom.

SMOKE THIS by LYNCH MOB (Koch Records)

If it wasnít for George Lynchís awesome guitar work, Dokken mightíve been just another above average band. After last yearís uninspired Shadowlife, Lynch would leave Dokken yet again. Now bringing back the infamous Lynch Mob, the guitar virtuoso has chosen a new line-up of musicians that share his passion and enthusiasm for creating innovative material. Donít think of this as tired-ass retro-rock, for SMOKE THIS by Lynch Mob is filled with ultra-modern music that should appeal to the new metalheads, the hardcore set, and the hip-hop faction. "World Spinning Away" sounds like hit single material and is destined to be a Lynch Mob classic. "Hollow" is an exceptional track, showing off the considerable talents of new vocalist Kirk Harper. "When I Rise" is a heavy rap number obviously influenced by the late great Tupac Shakur. Closing out the album is the dynamic title track, a driving hip-hop tune that many are not likely to forget. SMOKE THIS by Lynch Mob stands as a spectacular comeback for one great guitarist and a grand introduction for all others involved.

DAHMER by MACABRE (Olympic Recordings/Century Media Records)

As disturbing and demented as the man it parodies, Dahmer by Macabre is a shock rock opera with a punk and death metal soundtrack. A total of 26 songs track the life (and prison death) of the notorious mass murderer with hysterical accuracy. Mixing horror and a wicked sense of dark humor, the story commences with "Dog Guts," about one of Jeffrey Dahmerís strange childhood hobbies and then proceeds on its hapless journey of murder and mayhem. Disgusting yet viscously funny, Dahmer the musical is bound to offend many yet amaze others with its unpredictable sense of humor and graphically horrific narratives. Forget Evita and The Phantom, Dahmer is one warped musical experience that many will want endure again and again. This album is not for everyone, but fans of G.G. Allin and The Mentors are sure to enjoy the dementia! All others bewareÖ


Mactatus may have an odd sounding name to us Americans, but their Black Metal music is some of the finest you will ever hear. With Samoth of Emperor listed as a co-producer and Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone a lyrical contributor on the first track, Mactatus certainly have the heavyweights backing them up. PROVENANCE OF CRUELTY is truly evil stuff, cold, symphonic and mighty! It's a thrill to hear, with it's chilling keyboards, slashing guitars and brutal drumbeats. Starting out with "Draped In Shadows Of Satan's Pride," the hellish descent into the bowels of hell continues on with "King Of The Dark Side" and the stunning title cut. "Sleepless Souls" is a highlight, featuring a fantastic female vocalist named Kathrine Abrahamsen, who should get a band and recording contract of her very own! The vocals and much of the Satanic imagery is provided by a gentleman named Hate Rodvitnesson, a name that will surely become familiar within the Black Metal underground. Those who like the sounds of Emperor and Dimmu Borgir will want to make PROVENANCE OF CRUELTY by Mactatus a permanent part of your collection. And although I stayed in town to see Emperor on the weekend of the Milwaukee Metal Fest, my biggest and only regret I'll have is not being able to see Mactatus play live at the convention! Hail Mactatus and all who keep Norwegian Black Metal alive!!!

MACTATUS: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


How often I've gone to the movies these days and have been able to predict every little plot point tossed out from the screen. Some metal music has begun to become like that too. Fortunately we have bands like Maudlin Of The Well challenging the conventional, and delivering recordings like My Fruit Psychobells that are highly original and thoroughly unpredictable. Taking metal and shaking the genre out on it's ass, Maudlin Of The Well have created a brilliant work of art. Most may not understand it, but influences of My Dying Bride, The Gathering, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and death metal mix together with a chilling, brutal effect. There are passages of sweet hypnotic sounds followed by the most stunning noise rock this side of Sonic Youth. Although I'm throwing band examples all over the place, there is no denying that Maudlin Of The Well has a unique feel to their music that many adventurous types are sure to enjoy. The label aptly describes the whole enterprise as "Progressive, astral doom metal" -- you'll just have to pick up a copy and judge for yourself what exactly Maudlin Of The Well should be classified as. Of you could just grab yourself a copy, forget silly categories (since the band really can't be pigeon-holed anyway), and enjoy the musical adventure of a life time!


Mental Home is a dark and deadly metal outfit from Russia who are making waves all over the world with their sensational recordings. Atmospheric, gloomy and ponderous, the soundscapes of Mental Home take you on a wondrous journey through the blackest regions of your mind. Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas is their most compelling work to date. While influences of Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd may be detected, the band still possess a sound that is highly unique in the heavy metal field. Opening tracks "Downstairs" and "Late To Revise" set the whole enterprise off into flight -- these are two memorable tunes that will thrill to senses. "Eternal Moon" is dazzling with it's strange interludes combined with anthem-like choruses. "Bliss" is another highlight, a haunting rocker that literally sweeps the listener away into a euphoric dream-like state. With introspective lyrics and ambitious melodies, many will discover a brand new metal favorite within the vast musical confines of Mental Home. Another outstanding release from The End Records, licensed exclusively to the Century Media Group here in the States.

9 by MERCYFUL FATE (Metal Blade Records)

After all of this time, King Diamond and/or Mercyful Fate can still release albums with merit. 9 is the newest Mercyful Fate recording, featuring 10 songs of true, demonic vision. Bordering on horror camp with titles such as "Kiss The Demon," "Burn In Hell," and "The Church Of Saint Anne," these songs are effective nonetheless. With Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir being so popular, both bands have cited Mercyful Fate as a vital influence. Even Metallica recorded a medley of old Mercyful Fate songs on their GARAGE INC release. But as for 9 and the modern day, Diamond and company still deliver the thrills and chills. Diamond's vocal performances are as unique and sinister as ever, and he spins his tales of evil and the macabre with all the required theatrical glee. Hank Shermann and Mike Wead do some admirable guitar work while Sharlee D'Angelo on bass and Bjarne T. Holme on drums make up the killer rhythm section. At this point in their career, Mercyful Fate still put out great records that will please their fans. With 9, the decadent legacy of Mercyful Fate lives on, and will probably do so for many more years to come.


While Knjaz Varggoth is a member of Nokturnal Mortum, an awesome Ukranian black metal outfit, his new solo project goes way beyond anything you'll ever hear in this genre. A magnificent 72 minute opus, THE KEY TO THE GATES OF APOCALYPSES is the most imaginative work of sonic art you'll hear this year. Completely performed by the mysterious Varggoth, the haunting keyboards, metallic chants, crazed cacklings, and many infernal passages are guaranteed to keep the listener entertained for the entire duration. The recording is first rate, with the music always challenging and cutting edge. Perhaps surpassing even his own Nokturnal Mortum efforts, Varggoth's project must be heard all the way through to be truly appreciated. It's grand opera for the black metal hordes, and will surely appeal to others who like their music filled with adventure and dramatic innovations. After this one, black metal will certainly have a hell of a lot to live up to! For jaded ears like mine, The Mistigo Varggoth Darkesta is an unholy delight!

COCAINE RODEO by MONDO GENERATOR (Southern Lord Recordings)

Mondo Generator features a whoís-who of stoner rock and metal Ė members of Kyuss, Fun Manchu, Karma To Burn, and even Queens Of The Stone Age participate on this recording. The brainchild is the Queen Of The Stone Ageís demented bassist Nick Oliveri, Mondo Generator is musical insanity that is way too infectious for itís own good. "I feel so sick!" Mr. Oliveri screams on the first cut entitled "13th Floor," and thereís no turning back cuz you are hooked by this sick puppy of a CD! The music is brutal, punishing and, in the end, oddly endearing. Cocaine Rodeo is required listening for all those who like their metal filled with trashiness and a far out sense of humor Ė check out "Miss Mary Gets A Boob Job" and "I Want You To Die" for perfect examples of this. Hopefully Mr. Oliveri will get time off from his Stone Age duties and be able to perform live with his Mondo Generator project. Cocaine Rodeo is an album that must be heard once to be believed and twice to be fully appreciated


Just to see the Mercury Records logo on the back of this CD is amazing -- for Monstrosity plays some of the most brutal music you will ever hear. One of the original death metal bands from Florida, Monstrosity have returned -- and with IN DARK PURITY, they give other bands in this genre something to aspire for. Their former vocalist may have fled into the dark 'n evil ranks of the mighty Cannibal Corpse, but new recruit Jason Avery spews out the venom quite nicely, thank you! The remaining band members play at the break-neck pace, making Monstrosity the tightest, most savage unit of musicians this side of...well...Cannibal Corpse! The lyrical content is way above average, soaring beyond the typical mindlessness and really taking you to those morbid, far off places within your mind. While other head bangers depend on songs of the past to please the hordes, Monstrosity is just hitting their peak now! IN DARK PURITY is destined to become a genre classic. Thanks to the folks at Olympic for bringing back this awesome act!


With the success of In Extremo, thereís plenty of hope that a band as inventive as Morgenstern could also catch on. Mixing in a metal sound with traditional folk arrangements, Morgensternís music is fascinating and enlightening. After a tribal drum calls the troops to arms, "Stern Von Bethlehem" commences on a celebratory, highly spiritual note. Next up is "Das Katzentier," a tune that crosses electric rock guitars with assorted woodwind instruments. "Operie Femina" is a highlight with a memorable chorus that will stay in your head for ages. "Jerusalem" is another impressive track, with haunting chants and a sense of euphoria prevailing throughout. Even through the lyrics are in German, thereís no denying their power and the rich culture that has inspired Morgenstern. The band may have much in common with Vingtersorg and the aforementioned In Extremo, but Morgensterm easily establishes their own identity with memorable songs and compelling musicianship. Feuertaufe is a must for those avid metal freaks who not only want to expand their musical collection with greatness, but their very minds as well...

MORGENSTERN: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

SOLINARI by MORGION (Relapse Records)

Morgion is a doom metal band from Orange County out of all places! But if they didn't state their locale within the confines of the CD notes, you'd swear these guys were the real European thing! No copy cats by an means, Morgion play highly intellegent music with sweeping passages and imaginative lyrics. Whether it's the gentle, hypnotic parts or the wild crescendos and climaxes, Morgion thrill the listener with the intriguing SOLINARI. The vocals alternate between spoken word and a passionate growl while all members perform with the skill of accomplished classical musicians. In the grand tradition of My Dying Bride and Anathema, Morgion is America's stunning answer to the European doom metal crusade. Any band this compelling coming out of the ruins of the OC music scene is truly good news indeed!


Recorded at Hamburg, Germany in 1998, EVERYTHING LOUDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE is Motorhead's third live album. Featuring 25 songs on two CD's, this is the best live recording I've heard in quite a few years. Even after all this time, Motorhead prove themselves to be a major force, and can certainly rock harder than just about anyone else. The Motorhead standards still sound great live, including "Ace Of Spades," "Born To Raise Hell," and "Orgasmatron." Much of their excellent recent work is performed as well, including the dynamic "Love For Sale," the uncompromising "Civil War," and the ironically titled "Overnight Sensation." In case anyone has forgotten or doesn't know, Lemmy is a tremendous front man whose gravelly voice and signature bass playing remain thrilling to behold! Co-horts Phil Campbell on guitar and Mickey Dee on drums do Lemmy and the Motorhead legacy proud with their wild musical performances. There is much life left in Motorhead, and as the new millennium approaches, you had better plan on Lemmy and the gang to be very much involved in modern music come this new century! While we wait for a new Motorhead release, it is required that all fans of heavy music check out the masters at work live. EVERYTHING LOUDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE is a real treat for all fans of intense rock and roll! Destined to be a classic live album!!!

LOTUS by MRS. HIPPIE (Metal Blade Records)

Attention metal fans! Thereís an odd little album called LOTUS by some band that goes under the strange moniker of Mrs. Hippie. Before you pass up the inconspicuous piece of compact disc, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, Mrs. Hippie is the band a certain Joacim Cans performed vocals for just prior to hitting the stratosphere of fame with the mighty Hammerfall. Mike Vai of Hardcore Superstar and Brassmonkeys plus Christian Smedstorm of Awesome Machine also participated in this project. Formed in 1994, the sessions on LOTUS featured recordings the band made two years later. Much rawer and darker than the anthem-inclined Hammerfall, Mrs. Hippie has an aggro-psychedelic feel that mixed easily with the more traditional metal arrangements. These dudes from Gothenburg wrote some outstanding tunes that warrant attention, including "Someone Out There," "Mother Nature Bleeds" and their haunting masterpiece "Iíve Lost My Way." Also included on LOTUS is "I Want You," a Kiss cover they recorded for a tribute album which features a musical contribution from bassist Peter Iwers of In Flames. So take a second look at that disc sitting in the bin marked Mrs. Hippie Ė itís an obscure piece of modern metal history that is required listening for all fans of Hammerfall and the Gothenburg music scene.


FEEDING THE MACHINE is the second solo album by guitar wizard James Murphy. Best known for his work in Death, Obituary, and now Testament, Murphy has recorded a disc filled with extraordinary, technical music. "No One Can Tell You" is a stand-out piece, featuring Chuck Billy of Testament on vocals. "Deconstruct" is a moody piece, featuring Clark Brown of Geezer fame of vocals. "Epoch" and "Contagion" are fine instrumental pieces that show off Murphy's highly skillled guitar work. "Through Your Eyes (Distant Mirrors)" mixes the sounds of Pink Floyd with a progressive metallic edge. And then there's the title track, also featuring Brown, that really reels the listener in. Murphy is wise enough to use great musicians, rendering FEEDING THE MACHINE a fully realized effort and not some guitarist on a heavy ego trip. Murphy's band includes Steve Digiorgio of Sadus on bass and Deen Castronovo (Ozzy and Geezer) on drums. Recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Oakland, Murphy not only produced this fine work himself, but owns the recording studio as well. Featuring a virtual who's-who of The Bay Area's metal scene, FEEDING THE MACHINE by James Murphy (and company) is an extremely compelling recording that requires repeated listenings! Even if you hate Yngwie, you're gonna love this!

THE AEONIC MAJESTY by MUTANT (Listenable Records)

The press notes aptly describe Mutantís hellish musical assault Ė "Blast Black Death Hurricane." One of the most technical, creative metal bands youíll ever hear, it comes as no surprise that Mutant is the brainchild of two Theory In Practice members. Peter Lake and Henrik Ohlsson have taken time from their main band, and have created a side project that stands out extremely well on itís own. Combining black metal with progressive influences, Mutant go way above and beyond normal genre expectations. These guys play their instruments like speed demons at times, and will thrill all with their dynamic musical precision. The Aeonic Majesty is a stunning work of metallic darkness, and will be remembered with fondness and fear by all who dare to venture onto itís somber path. With bands this innovative, itís clear that there is plenty of life left within the black metal genre. Another cool metal project from Sweden!


Starting out with a lonely sounding piano interlude, the five songs that follow are brilliant epics of sound that will delight and thrill the senses. To call what Myriads does gothic metal is doing this band a severe injustice, for their brilliant composition quite often transcend any neat-fitting genre classification. Two of the members were once in Twin Obscenity, and on In Spheres Without Time, Myriads present a wondrous debut that easily surpasses any contributions they made in their former band. All songs feature three vocals style, performing together like a grand metallic rock opera. Mona Undheim Skotteneís voice can be soft and enchanting one minute and violent the next, and her keyboard work is industrious and compelling. Mikael Stokdal contributes the effective black metal vocals, and also performs much of the imaginative keyboard work. Alexander Twiss performs the guttural death metal vo-kills and atmospheric guitar work, weaving through the pieces like a true musical artist. Rudi Junger brings it all home with his driving percussive work. Although the band is now looking for a permanent bassist, Torp and Knud Kleppe participated on the album as session musicians. In Spheres Without Time is a true work of art, featuring musical and lyrical ideas that all adventurous musical connoisseurs are sure to appreciate! Easily one of the yearís best and most underrated albums. I canít wait to hear what Myriads come up with nextÖ

HUMAN 2.0 by NASUM (Relapse Records)

Nasum is a grindcore trio out of Sweden who play some of the most ferocious music you ears will ever have the pleasure of bleeding to. Managing to jam 25 tracks of punishing noise onto one 38 minute CD, Nasum tear through the material with the passion of a pitbull with an advance state of rabies. Featuring tunes that come towards you at a skull crushing speed combined with rather insightful lyrics, Human 2.0 is an adventure in thrash and madness designed for the thinking man. And even if you donít want to think, canít understand the words or donít want to read the provided lyric sheet, you can still bang your head and mosh about until you knock your silly ass out! The riffs and musicianship on Human 2.0 are impressive and the recording is superb, with much of the album being edited by studio guru Dan Swano (ex-Edge Of Sanity). From the blistering opening cut "Mass Hypnosis" to the chilling finale of "Sometimes Dead Is Better," Human 2.0 by Nasum is grindcore that will pulsate through your system long after the disc comes to itís screeching conclusion.


The ominous instrumental "Rise Of The Infernal" kicks off Necrophobicís fourth release, and then itís off into some of the most evil Black Metal you will ever hear. Based out of Sweden, Necrophobic prove once again that they are one of the most underrated Black Metal bands in the genre today. The Third Antichrist features music in the grand tradition of Darkthrone and Satyricon, melodic yet intense and filled with dark passages and mind numbing guitar work. The band has matured a great deal since their debut, and is destined to win even more fans over with tracks such as "The Third Of Arrivals," "Into Armageddon," and "The Throne Of Souls Possessed." Yet another unforgettable journey into hell from the mighty, tormented souls of Necrophobic.


NeChrist is the third Nokturnal Mortum release from The End Records. The band hails from the darkest regions of the Ukraine and they play some of the most original music youíll hear from the Black Metal genre. The disc kicks off with a celebratory explosion with "The Funeral Wind Born In Oriana," containing the wildest music this side of Dark Funeral plus rowdy, totally rambunctious Ukraine folk Passages too. This track MUST be heard to be believed -- thereís nothing else like it in Black Metal today. The entire album is a thrilling experience with a whopping 88 tracks of pure sonic hell and fury. Those into bands like Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon must acquire a copy of NeChrist! Other exciting songs on this release include "Night Before The Flight," "The Call Of Aryan Spirit," and "Jesusí Blood." Knjaz Varggoth and company will make you believe in the glorious genre known as Black Metal once again! A true underground cult classic! Donít just take my word for it. Go to http://www.theendrecords.com and get a copy for yourself. Highly recommended!

NOKTURNAL MORTUM: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Andy Craighan of My Dying Bride has been saying some pretty nice things about them. Brian Griffin of Broken Hope liked the band enough to produced their latest album. The band is called Novembers Doom and they play the most stunning metal you'll hear this side of -- well -- My Dying Bride. To call them just a doom metal band would be an injustice to their complex sound -- music that can be brutal at times and then tender and forlorn when the passage calls for it. The lyrics by Paul Kuhr are inspired, and he performs them with both passion and brutality. Co-vocalist Cathy Jo Hejna has the most beautiful alto you'll ever hear in a rock band. The music weaves it's magical spell upon the listener, relaying it's moving tales of loss and anguish. There are signs of death metal all the way through to classical elements permeating the soundscape. It will be interesting to see if they can perform this intricate music in a live setting. Can't wait to see what Novembers Doom thinks up next. OF SCULPTURED IVY AND STONE FLOWERS will be a difficult album to top, but Novembers Doom should certainly be up to such a challenge.

INTENSE by OBSCENITY (Morbid Records)

INTENSE -- the title of the latest release by Obscenity pretty much says it all. Based out of Oldenburg, Germany, these guys play some of the most brutal death metal that is both primitive and technically brilliant! Having been around since 1989, Obscenity play with the strength and vibrancy of a brand new band. The musicianship is first rate and the songs really brim over with chaos and confusion. Itís a wonder why Obscenity isnít even more well known in death metal circles, as they can kick the sh*t out of any of the current crop of so-called big name bands. Songs that stand out include "Bleed For Me," "Pride Of Creation," "Ripping Your Torso," and "Suck My Vomit!" If you are a fan of death metal, do yourself a favor and check out Intense by Obscenity. Without a doubt, one of the best death metal releases of 2000 so far!

ORIGIN by ORIGIN (Relapse Records)

Donít let the serene, new age-like cover fool you Ė this is no somber journey through the quiet regions of outer space! Originís debut album on Relapse Records is deathgrind of the most intensive variety. Hailing from Kansas, Origin features ex-members of Cephalic Carnage and Angelcorpse. The disc blasts you into a nightmarish stratosphere with "Lethal Manipulation (The Bonecrusher Chronicles)" and continues to attack your sense with tunes such as "Sociocide," "Vomit You Out," and "Disease Called Man." An amazing album that all true fans of grindcore will endure with a good deal of fear and delight. Prepare for the onslaught of alien noise that goes by the name of Origin Ė and all other timid musical types run for your lives!


Mostly because of Black Metal's use of Scandinavian folk, I've actually bought this kind of traditional music, only to find it lacking in passion and depth. This could not be said of OTYG, who combine metallic guitars with traditional folk, coming up with a truly brilliant pallette of sound. Sung in their native tongue, the tunes on SAGOVINDARS BONING are inspiring, with at least three of the members being refugees from death metal outfits. OTYG features the talented Vintersorg on vocals. The musicanship is first rate, with classy passages, cool male and female vocal interludes -- and the occasion jarring guitar thrown in for good measure. A true cultural celebration, this "folk metal" is played with a ton of spirit and conviction, exposing rockers all over the world to music they would not normally listen to. All this, and OTYG do a rather unique cover of Mr. Dio's "Holy Diver" that must be heard to be really appreciated. I've always been fascinated when metal bands mix traditional folk music with mrorockin' passages. Now Otyg present a whole album of this type of music to be cherished by those looking for a whole new adventure in sound. Highly recommended!


Pandemia are from the Czech Republic and are "spreading the message" that even in the Eastern Bloc, death metal is a thriving force to be reckoned with. Known for their live shows all over Europe, itís apparent that their energy and forceful demeanor translated successfully on SPREADING THE MESSAGE, Pandemiaís first legacy of evil. This is primitive, skull bashing death metal of the most extreme variety Ė performed to the hilt by a group of very talented musicians. SPREADING THE MESSAGE is an impressive first effort, stark and brutal Ė comparable to the great works of Vader, Krisiun and even the mighty Slayer. All fans of uncompromising death metal should get a hold of this near-great release and prepare for the sonic assault!

OH, MY REGRETS by PECCATUM (Candlelight Records)

If you thought Peccatumís first album was strange and wonderful, wait until you hear their new EP. Entitled OH, MY REGRETS, Peccatum take the avant-garde metal genre to dizzying heights Ė all within the confines of just three songs! "Rise, Ye Humans" and "Oh, My Regrets" are the new original tunes while Peccatumís cover of the Judas Priest classic "Blood Red Skies" must be heard to be believed! Featured on this recording are Ihsahn of Emperor, the terrifying rantings of Lord PZ (from Source Of Tide), and the brilliant operatic vocals of Ihriel (who also happens to be Ihsahnís wife). All singing is truly breathtaking and the song writing inspired Ė only in Peccatumís world can searing guitars, soothing violins and demonic drum pounding collide with the greatest of ease. Amor Fati is the tentative title of Peccatumís second full-length effort, due out September 2000. In the meantime, all fans of extraordinary, inventive music should shell out a few bucks, buy this EP and prepare for a thrill-ride through enchanted, unnerving soundscapes. There will be no regrets!


Platypus is a rock and roll supergroup featuring Ty Tabor (Kings X), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) and John Myung (Dream Theater). The sounds of psychedelia, blues and progressive rock abound, performed with brilliant intricacy. "Nothing To Say" and "I'm With You" are songs that remind you of what made 70's rock radio so great, while "Platt Opus" and "Blue Plate Special" demonstrate how far the band will go with an instrumental jam. There are some truly amazing moments on WHEN PUS COMES TO SHOVE -- the project is actually better than some of the recordings these members are making in their respective bands. WHEN PUS COMES TO SHOVE is a well thought out, fully realized effort. And anyone who dares to end an album with a track entitled "What About The Merch?" has got to possess a keen sense of humor. Yes, Platypus seem to be having fun, making all of this complicated music quite entertaining indeed. Let's hope this band tours!

DATA PLAGUE by PRIMARY SLAVE (Visible Noise Records)

Itís really hard to believe that Paul Allender from Cradle Of Filth started a band like Primary Slave. Not goth in the least, Primary Slave perform a cyber nu-metal thatís a full-on assault to the senses. Allender left Primary Slave prior to their recording of DATA PLAGUE, but the remaining members are impressive in their own right. The vocals of Mark Giltrow are powerful and in-your-face, while he and Lee Dunham blast your ear drums away with awesome loud-ass guitar noise. David Palser on bass and a drummer named "G" make up the pulsating rhythm section. While all the songs hit you like a ton of bricks, "Spasm" is a real stand-out Ė an infectious cyber-hit that demands to be heard on the more adventurous radio stations. Other impressive tracks include "Electric Dream State," "Slide," and "A Way To Be Religious." The lyrics on DATA PLAGUE may deal with a bleak future Ė but with an album of tracks this impressive, the only things Primary Slave may have to worry about is the sweet smell of success!!! A very impressive debut!


The best way to describe the sound of Primordial is that of emotional metal, highly melodic and filled with passion and despair. Primordialís latest is entitled Spirit The Earth Aflame, and should appeal to all who like their metal seeped with a good dose of depressive imagery. The disc starts off with a chilly introduction, kicking into all out magnificence with the stunning "God To The Godless." The various tracks feature loud distorted guitars, a brutal rhythm section and a highly charismatic lead vocalist. The musical structures are complex yet pure and absorbing. Donít even try to label these guys -- just simply call them Primordial. One day the whole world will know the quality metal this exciting band produces. In the meantime, Primordial are here to really make your day a dark and somber one. Those into Moonspell or Tiamat should enjoy the oppressive melodies of Primordial. And please, donít forget to take your anti-depressants before listening...


While at the Milwaukee Metalfest this year, I had the pleasure of seeing Project Grudge perform live. They were one of the most interesting bands at the fest, daring to be different with their Ministry/Pig influenced industrial sounds. On their debut album Between You And Reality, Project Grudge display all the dynamic intensity and that was spewed forth during their live show. On CD, Project Grudge is the creation of the charismatic Mattias Johansson, a one-man invention of furious attitude-driven noise. Hailing from Malmo, Sweden, Project Grudge easily prove that Swedish death metal and Abba arenít the only cool exports the country has to offer the world. Highlights from Between You And Reality include "Soul For Sale," "Hard To Kill," "One Man," and "Work." Those looking to discover a fantastic new act who plays industrial strength music will really be excited by what Project Grudge has to offer. A promising debut from a band destined to go places!

PROJECT GRUDGE: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


Prophanity is a Swedish band who combine traditional metal guitar riffs with a hardened black metal brutality. This is music for the end of this dismal millennium, where metal is on the rise again as our battles in this life rage on! The Prophanity sound is exhillerating, breathing new and ferocious life into the scene. I'm not sure how this band came to be, but let's hope they don't get lost within the current Swedish Heavy Metal invasion. The best part of STRONGER THAN STEEL has to be the mighty guitar work of Nickolas Magnusson and Christer "Grendel" Olsson -- we haven't heard dueling axes this good since the heyday of Judas Priest! With intense vocals by Mathias "Farbaure" Jarrebring and a driving rhythm section consisting of bassist Robert Lindmark and drummer A.W. Malmstrom, Prophanity is one band that will give the genre the swift kick in the ass it needs! With records like STRONGER THAN STEEL, heavy metal will surely rule the Earth once again! Just a note: The U.S. version of this CD contains a bonus track called "Swedish Steel," which shows off just how diverse and forceful this band can be. Wow!

DIABOLICAL AGE by RAGNAROK (Voices Of Wonder Records/Head Not Found)

Good lard! This is the band your parents, your pastor and the old pope in Rome warned you about! This is Ragnarok of Norway, bringing you the most evil Black Metal your mortal ears will ever hear! If the super blasphemous cover art doesnít get to you, the brutal darkness of Ragnarokís music will. Diabolical Age is Ragnarokís third release, and itís bound to win them new converts! "Itís War" screams the first track, and the battle is on against all that Christianity stands for. The title cut is especially effective mixing the extreme metal with sinister keyboard interludes -- like a merry-go-round ride taking you into the depths of hell. "The Key Is Turned For The 7th Time" is a stand-out -- a soundtrack for the end of the world thrashing about in your stereo system. These guys make bands like Dimmu Borgir appear like the Walt Disney of Black Metal. All members of Ragnarok are to be commended for their musicianship, especially the sensational drum assaults of Jontho, the pulsating bass playing of Jerv, and the chilling, atmospheric guitar work of Rym. Vocalist Thyme has since left the band, but his venom-spewing on Diabolical Age is also noteworthy of praise! Those into bands like Dark Funeral and Lord Belial are absolutely required to check out Diabolical Age by Ragnarok. A demonic pleasure for all fans of Black Metal music taken to extreme measures. The end awaits...

HOLY TARGET by RAISE HELL (Nuclear Blast Records)

The cover art of HOLY TARGET depicts bomber planes heading towards a gothic looking church. The "holy target" of the title is Christianity of course, and Raise Hell has declared a sonic war on all that is religious and good. This is brutal metal with evil, blasphemous lyrics that would be played in the jukebox of the damned. All the members of Raise Hell are in their teens, and they perform in a speedy, demonic fashion. Based out of Gothenberg, Sweden, Raise Hell bring a vital energy to an already overcrowded genre. Recorded and mixed by Tommy and Peter Tagtren, HOLY TARGET by Raise Hell shows off a talented new band intent on obliterating the heavy metal competition. An unholy delight!

RAISE HELL: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

ONE FOR ALL by RAVEN (Metal Blade Records)

Those who think Raven peaked sometime back in 1983 only need to take a listen to their brand new release on Metal Blade Records. Entitled One For All, their 14th full length album shows the band in top form, ready to bring their NWOBHM sound into a whole new millennium. The title is a play on words from their 1983 breakthrough All For One recording Ė perhaps an indication of lightning striking twice? There isnít a clunker within the twelve songs on One For All, and many of these could easily find their way onto rock and roll radio with ease. Filled with attitude and way-too-catchy riffage, the Raven trio have delivered all new anthems for fans old and new Ė the highlight tracks being the dynamic opener "Seven Shades," the slamming "Get Your Motor Ready," power ballad "The Hunger Inside," and the hard hitting "Roll With The Punches." The Raven lunatic line-up is Joe Hasselvander on drums and percussion, Mark Gallagher on guitars and vocals, and John Gallagher on vocals and bass. Rest assured, the guys in Raven can still kick yer ass, even after all these glorious years!!!


I really dig Roadsaw! This is old fashioned rock and roll that gives you the feeling of being on the road, travelling from town to town. Surely a soundtrack for a lifestyle that many only dream about, NATIONWIDE is Roadsaw's second effort, and it is filled with loud, aggressive hard rock. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the 13 tracks on Roadsaw's new CD are exciting, with intense guitars, driving rhythms, and fierce vocal performances. Check out "In Threes" for hit single material, or really bang your head to rock anthems like "Keep On Sailing" or "Satellite." Another cool track of note is the slow, pulsating "Black Flower," showing that Roadsaw are not afraid to be experimental. All the songs on NATIONWIDE were written while touring across the U.S. , giving the album it's grand, free-wheelin' feeling. For those who like to rock (or perhaps have forgotten how to rock), NATIONWIDE by Roadsaw is required listening. You will believe in that old saying, which goes something like "Rock and Roll will never die!"

FEAR by ROYAL HUNT (Majestic/Rondel Records)

Royal Hunt is an outstanding band from Denmark who combine hard rock with stunning keyboard passages. Founded by multi-instrumentalist Andre Andersen and bassist Steen Morgenson in the early 90's, Royal Hunt play arena rock that is strong and dramatic. FEAR is Royal Hunt's fifth release, showcasing seven tracks of grand, epic proportions. Andre Andersen is one of the finest keyboardist you'll ever hear, a classically trained musician whose brilliant compositions are sweeping in scope. The newest addition to Royal Hunt is John West (Artension), who lends his fantastic vocals to the proceedings. All performances on FEAR are first rate, with "Faces Of War," "Lies," and the awesome title cut being the stand-outs. If you like your rock heavy and filled with melodramatic flair, then Royal Hunt is required listening! The best prog-rock record you'll hear this year!


While their debut on Necropolis is being readied for release, Sadistic Intent has recorded a three song MCD as a preview of things to come. For those who don't know, Sadistic Intent play extremely evil death metal and are one of the best bands to come out of the local Los Angeles scene. ANCIENT BLACK EARTH is a limited edition, released as a tribute to the fans who have been so supportive over the band's near decade of existence. Having appeared as an opening act for groups such as Cradle Of Filth and Marduk, Sadistic Intent compare favorable to their European counterparts. Combining death with black and thrash metal, the excellent musicianship and hyper-fast playing really make the songs come to life. This is evil, blasphemous music that demands to be played LOUD!!! Can't wait for the full release. In addition to being a top band on the scene, members of Sadistic Intent run a cool indie record store in Downey called Dark Realm, which specializing in all that is METAL!!!


Those guys in Scholomance are a mad and inventive lot! For A TREASTISE ON LOVE is probably the most bizarre metal album you'll hear this year. Dramatic, dazzling and campy, Scholomance thrill with their technical brilliance. Hailing from someplace called Willard in Missouri, Scholomance perform as if they are from a whole other galaxy! Combining elements of classical music and doom metal, the band spews forth an unforgettable collage of sound. Their four part title track is a real treat for the ears, a mind blowing composition that will leave you wanting more -- and how fortunate for us all that five songs of shimmering brilliance follow. Scholomance take the listener on an epic journey through madness,leaving them breathless. Once again, The End Records has found a band to really get behind. Find your own copy of A TREASTISE ON LOVE by Scholomance and prepare to be launched into a heavy metal orbit -- trust me, you'll not believe your ears!

SCULPTURE by SCULPTURE (Nuclear Blast Records)

On Crematory's latest album AWAKE, the band explored a highly commercial sound and managed to keep their brilliant doomster themes in tact. Their guitarist Lotte would leave the band shortly after, forming the haunting SCULPTURE with Stefan of Darkseed. Combining the creativity of Crematory's sound with a late Metallica edge, Lotte and Company have recorded an adventurous debut. Their self-titled album is aggresive alright, but maintains an atmosphere of threatening ambient darkness. With potential hits like "Bring Me Down" and "Deniers," there is little doubt that Sculpture will win over the metal and hard rock fans world wide. The 11 tracks contained within are melodic, spellbinding, and a genuine thrill to behold. Even those with discriminating ears may enjoy the magnificent sounds the band so aptly shapes and layers. Sculpture send you on a moody musical journey -- one that you'll want to experience over and over again. You can just bet this release will wind up in my CD player many, many times!


Serpent Obscene play an extreme mixture of thrash and death metal that penetrates the senses. Their self-titled debut album on Necropolis Records shows a great deal of promise, and is an exciting first effort. Hailing from Sweden, Serpent Obscene can easily be compared to the greats such as Dismember, Fleshcrawl, and even Kreator. These guys will tear your face off with their lightning speed and intensive deliveries, and will win extreme metal fans over with tunes such as "Devastation," "Serpent Prophecy," and "Evil Rites." The whole brutal enterprise ends with a heartbeat sound set to chilling ambient music, perhaps bringing the listener down from the explosive musical journey that had ensued Ė but donít worry Ė youíll want to spin this venomous disc again and again. Expect Serpent Obscene to win over many new fans with their super-fast thrash-o-holic metal!


HELL ETERNAL by Setherial is possibly one of the most intense Black Metal recordings ever engraved onto a compact disc. It is no accident that these guys sound a bit like Dark Funeral, since former DF member Themgoroth is the guest vocalist on this evil opus. Setherial has been through quite a few line-up changes and with the HELL ETERNAL line-up, they've hit an unholy combination of sonic mayhem and sinister mysticism. Produced by Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy and the Setherial horde, the sound quality is superior. Setherial dare to take you on a journey into the inner depths of hell with tunes such as "Towards The Realm," "Shadows Of The Throne," and "Guardians Of The Gates Of Flame." Those into War, Lord Belial, and (yes) Dark Funeral must get ahold of this Black Metal masterpiece. Play HELL ETERNAL at full blast and scare the living sh*t out of your neighbors!


Shamash are one of the most diverse bands to come out of Mexico's heavy metal underground. They play compelling doom metal and them mix it all up with really slamming passages. Pushing boundaries is what Shamash are all about. On tracks like the thrilling "Empire Of The Sun," instrumental "The Whispers Of The Darklight" or the dynamic title cut, Shamash show us all how far one can go with being creative and still be METAL! Grand, melodic and very, very heavy, ETERNAL AS TIME by Shamash is a much needed kick in the head towards a genre where too many of the bands are beginning to sound alike. A remarkable canvas of sound that will rock your world!


Next up in the Gothenburg rock sweepstakes is Soilwork, an extreme metal outfit whose music is in the grand tradition of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and (especially) Arch Enemy. One of the younger acts on the scene, Soilwork threaten to take it all over with a vengeance Ė just listen to the nine dynamic tracks on THE CHAINHEART MACHINE for solid proof! A relentless slab of disc that never lets up, THE CHAINHEART MACHINE is an exciting effort produced by Fredrik Nordstrom, a man who has impressive credits amongst all that is Gothenburg! The superior musicianship on the album includes virtuoso guitar work, supersonic drums, a subtle keyboard and a hyperactive vocalist with tons of energy to spare. Stand-out cuts include "Generation Speedkill," "Room No. 99," and the awesome title track. If youíre a fan of the mighty Gothenburg sound, you better acquire a copy of THE CHAINHEART MACHINE by Soilwork and prepare to bang your heads proudly once more!!!

SOILWORK: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

RUINS OF BEAUTY by SOURCE OF TIDE (Candlelight Records)

As far as black metal goes, RUINS OF BEAUTY by Source Of Tide is the strangest entry yet. The music is melodic and interesting, yet it's the bombastic vocals of Lord PZ that send the entire project way over the top! No stranger to the black metal scene, some may be familiar with Lord PZ through his work in the avant-garde Emperor side project Peccatum. Source Of Tide is an unusual venture, it's closest comparison being the latest recordings of the mighty Borknagar. Based out of Norway, Source Of Tide are an acquired taste, but just may be a source of delight for those who like their black metal filled with imagination and flair. The musicianship is just fine, whether it be the cool atmospheric synths, the heroic guitars or the pounding rhythm section. But still, the astounding vocal work of Lord PZ steals the show! A dramatic work of art that -- like or hate it -- this is one exhibition you're likely to remember for quite some time.

SOURCE OF TIDE: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

BASTARD COMPLEX by SPITE (Prosthetic/ Metal Blade Records)

Spite is a metallic hardcore band from Wilmington, North Carolina who really have a lot to say on the world we live in today. With stinging social commentary in place, BASTARD COMPLEX starts off with "Goodbye," an uneasy tirade about how us humans are destroying all that is beautiful with the planet. "Box Of Chocolates" is next, presenting a list of all the themes that concern Spite and should affect others too. "Calipornia" is a highlight, a track about the adult movie industry that thrives in the sunshine state. "American Silicone" talks about women who keep changing the appearance of their "rotting corpses." "You And I" is an attitude driven track while "King" closes the disc on a thoughtful note in regards to male-female relationships. Chris Boone (vocalist) is the author of these and other observations and he delivers his ideas with passion and a keen sense of irony. Craig Bader supplies a dynamic wall of sound on guitar while Josh Pratt delivers an intensive low end on bass. Byron McDonald pounds away fiendishly on the drums. Spite is just as exciting as any major label signing, and will hopefully get the attention they deserve with BASTARD COMPLEX.

BORN OF CHAOS by STORMRIDER (Self-produced Demo)

Stormrider are unsigned, but you can pretty much expect that situation to change real soon. For BORN OF CHAOS is an impressive demo, featuring Swedish black metal anthems that are instantly memorable. The demo starts off with a marching drum beat and then proceeds into "Firing Squad" Ė an excellent track that is sure to win listeners over to the Stormrider cause. The journey continues with the mighty "Warlord," which sounds like a sonic blast in the heavy metal battlefied. "Dead Love Of Mine" is a heartfelt reading accompanied by a lone guitar, and is followed by the tremendously slamworthy title track. Other stand-out cuts on BORN OF CHAOS include "Darkside" and "Stormrider." While the demo doesnít have a top-notch recording quality of an In Flames or Arch Enemy album, the catchy songs and impressive musicianship make Stormrider stand way apart from the current crop of unsigned heavy metal acts. The talented Stormrider horde who participated on the BORN OF CHAOS demo include Strampan and Anden on guitars, Fjalar on bass, Stoffe on drums Ė and YX delivers the fiery lyrics with much passion and conviction. The time for Stormrider is now! Visit the STORMRIDER WEB PAGE for more info!

GOD IS DEAD by STORMRIDER (Self produced CD demo)

Since their Born Of Chaos demo, Stormrider from Sweden has become quite a bit heavier, developing into a dynamic metallic force. Mixing Swedish death metal with Darkthrone-style brutality, Stormrider demonstrate on their God Is Dead CD that they are now ready for the big leagues! This mighty four song EP leaves quite an impression on the listener, whether it's the mega-charged musical assault or the hellish growls of vocalist YX. Tracks like "Riding The Storm" and especially "God Is Dead" prove that Stormrider have a dark and glorious future ahead of them. God Is Dead by Stormrider is required listening for all those who like their death metal laced with blackened hostility. All this, and a cool 8 page layout featuring the sinister lyrics!!! Face it, Stormrider will not remain unsigned for long...


The politically incorrect rap-core rantings of Stuck Mojo are back, and these guys are stronger than ever! Their latest release for Century Media is entitled Declarations Of A Headhunter and itís obviously their stab at the big time. Songs like "Hatebreed" and "Raise The Deadman" are sure to be played on the more adventurous radio stations with tracks like "Set The Tone," "Give War A Chance," and "Walk The Line" destined to become crowd favorites. The vocal banterings of Bonz mix well with the catchy singing of new bass player Dan Dryden. Combined with the heavy-ass guitars and a super-aggressive rhythm section, Stuck Mojo can really deliver the goods. Their harsh spoken-word comments on U.S. society can be heard on tracks such as the opener "A Lesson In Sensitivity," the rambling "Declaration," and "An Open Letter," which is their attack against the Reverend Jesse Jackson. While you may not agree with what they say, the music is dynamic and speaks volumes! With the new conservative revolution going on here in the States, the time for the controversial Stuck Mojo is now.


Who or what exactly is (a) Svartahrid?

Starting with an ominous organ interlude, Svartahrid burst into "Atter Et Rike," a melodic track of Black Metal that is a near masterpiece. The majestic tunes on FORTHCOMING STORM keep on coming, and yet so little is know about this band. Hardly anything can be found on the Internet Ė what is known is that one of the guys claims membership in the great Mactatus. Featuring shimmering keyboards, intensive vocals and a mighty barrage of guitar noise, this is truly elite Black Metal. Mighty, dramatic and epic in scope, FORTHCOMING STORM is a thrilling debut for a band that wonít remain unknown for long. In addition to the fantastic opening track, other tunes destined to be Black Metal classics include the head-banging "Lagnaden," the icy "Frostbitten," the doom-like strains of "Lordís Mystery," and the sweeping title cut. If you are into this style of music at all, check out Forthcoming Storm by Svartahrid and prepare for a sonic journey youíll want to relive over and over again. So who or what is (a) Svartahrid? Soon many will knowÖ

SVARTAHRID: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

MOONTOWER by DAN SWANO (Black Mark Production)

It has taken some time, but Dan Swano's solo project has finally seen the light of day. The former Edge Of Sanity vocalist has recorded MOONTOWER -- and it's surely his best effort since Edge Of Sanity's epic CRIMSON recording. Swano takes the metal genre to virtually unexplored territory and manages to perform all of the instruments on this minor miracle. MOONTOWER sounds awesome, heavy progressive music mixed with a death metal vocal and gentle acoustic and piano passages thrown in for good measure. An extraordinary piece of work to be sure, just listen to the stunning opening track "Suns Of The Night," the spacey melodic tones of "The Big Sleep," or the brilliant soundscapes of "Encounterparts" -- and you will clearly hear for yourself a musician at the very height of his creative powers. This is sweeping and compelling metal, filled with imagination. One of the finest metal albums you'll hear this year!

SPELLBOUND by TEN (Frontiers Records)

SPELLBOUND is filled with those great power anthems one remembers when 80's style arena rock was king. And with bands like Great Britian's Ten arriving upon the scene, expect to rock out to that dynamic sound once again! Gary Hughes is the mastermind behind Ten -- an astounding singer/songwriter who leaves an impression with his memorable voice and stunning compositions. Hughes has surrounded himself with first class musicians and together they deliver an unforgettable collage of wondrous sound! The title cut is an obvious single with it's infectious chorus while "Face The Fear" is a bright shining metallic anthem. "We Rule The Night" and "Red" successfully mix in a Celtic sound, adding a keen sense of adventure to the proceedings. Other highlights on SPELLBOUND include the frantic headbanging melodies of "The Alchemist" and a touching ballad entitled "Till The End Of Time."

The press notes aren't too far off when they proclaim Ten one of the best power metal groups around today. SPELLBOUND will leave you breathless, wanting to find out more about the big dramatic band with the three letter moniker. If you're into power metal, SPELLBOUND by Ten is a must for your collection.


Possessing a good sense of melody and dramatics, Thalarion play highly emotional doom metal. One of the most respected bands from Slovakia, Thalarion use black metal vocals and an enchanted female voice, plus symphonic musical interludes that are simply brilliant! Nela Horvathovaís voice has a mature, graceful yet world-weary quaility about it while Juraj Grezdo delivers his parts with fiery magnetism. The lyrics are personal and deeply moving while the melodies transcend the entire project way beyond the normal genre limitations. The keyboards greatly enhance the overall mood with oppressive guitars and a driving rhythm section help to create alternating moments of melancholy and jarring aggressiveness. Cold Waters Of Turbulent Torrents and A Herald Of Sorrow & Wretchedness are stunning pieces. In April We Wept is an instrumental tribute dedicated to the loving memory of the mother of one of the band members. Celebrating ten years in existence, Thalarion is one of the most exciting doom metal bands youíre likely to hear for quite some time.

THALARION: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

DEGGIAL by THERION (Nuclear Blast Records)

Christofer Johnsson is the mastermind behind Therion, a band now marking it's tenth year in existence. An extradinary album to be sure, DEGGIAL mixes progressive rock, classical instruments and otherworldly choirs. This is music the composers of old would have been proud of -- DEGGIAL is like a rock musical interspursed with grand opera. The first truly great release of the new millennium, DEGGIAL moves rock and metal into places the genre has never really ventured. Opening with the stunning "Seven Secrets Of The Sphinx," the brilliant compositions never cease. "Enter Yril-Ye" is a highlight, catchier than hell with fantastic choral interludes -- imagine trying to request this one on the radio -- but don't worry, they'll never play it -- it's too good! "Via Nocturne" is a lenghty work of musical art, a symphony of sound that will place Johnsson amongst his most revered influences.

The classic "O Futuna" by Carl Orff is given the Therion treatment as the albums grand finale, a traditional piece with a grim, gothic-like rock underscore. Inspirations throughout DEGGIAL include Verdi, Rachmaninov, Wagner, old school and symphonic Black metal. An unforgettable journey through the glorious future of the heavy metal genre!

THERION: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

SATAN'S WRATH by THY INFERNAL (Moribund Records Cult)

Everything about Thy Infernal is over-the-top and through the f*cking roof! Featuring members who go by names such as Slut and Rapist, Thy Infernal play extremely evil Black Metal. Based out of Portland, Oregon, Thy Infernal is one of the most extreme bands to ever come from the United States. Their songs are anthems for the horned one and they'll reverberate throughout your unsuspecting stereo system in a chilling fashion. Included in this, their first collection of tunes are "For The Glory Of Satan," "Behold The New Age Of Lord Satanas," and a cover of the Slayer classic "Black Magic." Just as good as anything Europe as to offer, Thy Infernal prove that Americans can record pulsating Black Metal with the rest of them. Oh, and check out the horrific cover art when you listen and prepare for thy doom!!! The American Black Metal underground has truly arrived! Hail!!!

SKELETON SKELETRON by TIAMAT (Century Media Records)

A few years ago (1994 to be exact), Tiamat toured the States in support of their awesome WILDHONEY album, opening for the likes of Motorhead and Black Sabbath! The music was of the doom variety, sweeping and passionate with growling death metal vocals. Now it's Tiamat circa 1999 -- and a few albums later Johan Edlund has left the growls behind, replacing it all with cool, seductive vocalizing. While their previous albums concentrating on the mysticisms of nature, SKELETON SKELETRON may be described as their "urban effort." Fans old and new should be ready for a surprise, as many of these tracks are radio friendly, yet they remain intellegent and brutally intense. The disc opens on a chilling note with "Church Of Tiamat," where the band promises "no candy coloured paradise." Next up is "Brighter Than The Sun," an extremely catchy tune that even has the non-metal heads here at Highwire Daze in awe! "Any colour you'd like as long as it's black," croons Edlund in an icy, passionate manner on this potential radio hit. A real treat on SKELETON SKELETRON is Tiamat's inventive covering of The Rolling Stones' infamous "Symphathy For The Devil" -- performed in a wondrous gothic style! Other thrilling tracks of note include "Dust Is Our Fare," "To Have And Have Not," and "Best Friend Money Can Buy."

Edlund's vocals are outstanding, plus his guitar and keyboard work add to the dark and danerous tone of the album. Anders Iwers on bass and Lars Skold on drums make up the dynamic rhythm section. These three guys challenge and excite music fans by pushing further the boundaries of several genres, coming up with a sound that is innovative and, oddly enough, quite accessable. SKELETON SKELETRON is as cold and as fascinating as the big city life is so aptly portrays. Highly recommended!!!


With a dynamic mixture of hardcore, industrial and metal, Too Many Gods possess a sound that is exciting and unique. The vocals are passionate and the music is driving and forceful. Definitely major label material, Too Many Gods could appeal to both the Korn/Deftone kids and the underground metal fanatics. Sounding as fresh as Korn did on their very first album, Too Many Gods offer a pulsating beat and an album filled with tunes that will thrive within your cranium for ages! These guys recently played the Milwaukee Metalfest, and they easily transport their live energy onto disc. With tracks like "New Time," "Reflect," "Introvert," and "When The Smoke Clears" demonstrating the bandís sheer diversity, Too Many Gods is an exciting find for anyone wanting to discover the very best in new musical talent. Too Many Gods take whatís currently popular in metal and gives it all the swift kick in the ass it deserves Ė and the whole creative output is a thrill to the senses. With an album as impressive as Blind Soul Lottery, there is little doubt that Too Many Gods have a bright future ahead of them. Highly recommended!


Along with Venom, Tormentor from Hungary have been cited as being one of the main influences in what would eventually become Black Metal. Formed in 1987, Tormentor recorded a single demo that achieved near legendary status throughout the years. Founding member Attila Csihar spent a brief time with Mayhem after Tormentor first split up, cementing his status forever as a true visionary of Black Metal. Well, throw all of your preconceptions out the window, because Tormentorís new album will not be what you or anyone else was expecting. RECIPE FERRUM is the first full-length release for Tormentor. At times the music is melodic and controlled and then itís suddenly filled with chaos, disorder and comic meanderings. Stand out cuts include the deliriously over-the-top "Hungarian Trilogy," the new wave sounds of "Dracula" and "Cara Mia," and the outstanding title track. RECIPE FERRUM is a demented journey into the unknown metal lands -- and either youíll find it annoying as hell or youíll be hailing Tormentor as super musical geniuses! Listen with an open mind and prepare for the musical insanity!


Out of all the bands claiming Gothenberg, Sweden as their home, Transport League possess a sound and mood that is all their own. A sonic blast of noise and fury, Satanic Panic combine a futuristic blues-like guitar with a metallic cyber-feel, delivering 11 intensive tunes that will bounce around like demonic thoughts through your jaded little skull. "Hell Detected" is the first song on the disc, starting the assault off with a convincing blast of power and drive. "Neckdraft" sounds like Transport League's serious stab at MTV success -- if only that venerable institution would play music this challenging! "Shut To Drown" is another stand-out, a well executed cut that penetrates the listener with it's edgy hooks. Peter Hunyadi contribute the outstanding lead guitar work. Tony Jelencovich vocalizes like a man possessed by personal demons, and contributes some groovin' guitar work. Ken Sandin on bass and Patrik J Sten on drums make a dynamic rhythm section. On the verge of breaking out in a big and demonic way, expect great things from Transport League and their Satanic Panic release in the year 2000. Gothenberg still rocks!!!

TRANSPORT LEAGUE: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!


There aren't too many bands that sound like Tristania -- basically no one would or could dare. Although they take the finer elements of Black and Gothic metal, the majestic sounds that Tristania unleash are light years beyond anything you're likely to hear within today's modern metal scene. The music is impressive and dramatic, with otherworldly choirs, over-the-top musical passages, and passionate lead vocals. BEYOND THE VEIL is magical from start to finish, strecthing the boundaries of metal much further than anyone could ever imagine. Hailing from Norway, Tristania deliver an atmosphere of enchantment and forboding doom. "A Sequel Of Decay," "Aphelian," "Dementia," and the title cut are amongst the songs that will stay locked up in your feverished brain for ages! This is progressive, adventurous material that demands repeated listenings as you will find something different and appealing after each and every spin of the disc.

Tristania will be doing a full European tour with Tiamat and Anathema -- hopefully they will come to the States and release their magical symphonies for us all to enjoy within a live setting. If they sound anything like what has been recorded on BEYOND THE VEIL, the live show will be an event that many will remember for months to come. Highly recommended!

THE LAST PREDATORS by TROLL (Voices Of Wonder Records/Head Not Found)

Troll is a Norwegian act that play a strange brand of music the press notes aptly describe as "psycho metal Ė extreme." This is lunatic, over-the-top material, and it should come as no surprise that a few guys from The Kovenant are involved with this ingenious piece of sonic noise. Even more far out than The Kovenantís Animatronic, THE LAST PREDATORS by Troll mixes futuristic and psycho-billy chaos to the Black Metal soundscape, coming up with several highly imaginative tunes. Vocalist S.M. Twice offers a grand, psychotic performance, growling, screeching and bellowing his way through the dementia. The only other permanent member listed is Nagash on various instruments Ė of course the man is better known as the charismatic Lex Icon in The Kovenant. Guest musicians include Mayhemís Hellhammer on drums and The Kovenantís Psy Coma on bass.

Starting off with a short intro called "Bastards Last Breath," Troll slams into nine dizzying tracks of adventurous madness, the highlights being "Mending The Instincts," "Fall Of The Marbeled Galaxy," and "Colony X-11: Inflict Mythical Mayhem." THE LAST PREDATORS is well worth going out of your way for Ė fans of The Kovenant and even more extreme avant garde metal will want to check this evil little Troll out!


Either on his own or with his band Rhapsody, Luca Turilli composes some of the most bombastic heavy metal you'll ever hear. Dramatic and inspiring, Turilli ranks right up there with some of the great rock arena legends of the 80's. King Of The Nordic Twilight is Turilli's first album away from Rhapsody, yet it still possesses all the brilliance and awe his main band is known for. Combining Nordic instruments with sweeping heavy metal grandeur, Turilli and his group of musicians come up with a soundtrack that is a genuine thrill to the ears. Starting off with a choral interlude entitled "To Magic Horizons," the disc kicks into high gear with the mighty sounds of "Black Dragon." "Legend Of Steel" and "Lord Of The Winter Snow" provide additional proof why Turilli is respected throughout Europe. One especially stunning number is "Princess Aurora," sung with passion by Icelandic opera diva Rannveig Sif Sigurdardottir. And stick around for the grand finale -- the powerful title track that clocks in an epic eleven-plus minutes. Handling the vocal duties for Turilli is Olaf Hayer (Lord Byron, Treasure Seeker, ex-Chryztyne) whose astounding work can be compared to Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson. The artwork throughout the album is worth the price alone, enhancing the magical world Turilli conveys to the listener so successfully. Kings Of The Nordic Twilight is required listening for all into sweeping power metal of the higher caliber!


Hailing from the rising metal scene of Mexico, Under Moonlight Sadness play a ferocious brand of doom metal. Atmospheric yet potent, AFTER THE COSMIC GATE is the debut recording for Under Moonlight Sadness, and it is impressive! While comparisons to My Dying Bride and Tiamat will abound, Under Moonlight Sadness dare to paint a different canvas of sound and they do succeed! Quite often, the band strays from the genre, coming up with inspired musical passages and segue-ways. The lyrics are exceptional, and how fortunate for us all that they are providing within. There are 17 songs included, taking the listener on a journey through the heart and soul of this very compelling band. The vocals are filled with passion and fire, and the musical passages are performed by musicians who obviously put a lot of thought and effort into what they do. Tracks that really stand out include "Dying Moon," "Reflections In A Dark Mirror," and "In The Gloomyís Hemisphere." "Cosmic Concept Farther Intellect" is their epic, sweeping and ambitious, showing just how creative and resourceful this band can be. Hereís hoping Under Moonlight Sadness play the U.S. soon -- in the mean time, AFTER THE COSMIC GATE is a disc well worth seeking out.


Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ultimatum have that sleazy metal sound that has made bands lie AC/DC and Accept very, very famous. Scott Waters growls the vocals with fiendish glee while Steve Trujillo handles the guitar duties like a total pro. The rhythm section is first rate, consisting of Sean Greigo on bass and Robert Gutierrez on drums. They have a mighty sound and even mightier message -- you see, this is a Christian metal band! And whatever your beliefs, there is no denying the fact that these guys totally rock! "Gutterbox" is an awesome track whose lyrics delve into all the trash curently on television and how our society has become so numb to all the violence shown as exhibition. "Never" talks about bands who conform to trends just to make a buck. The title track takes the theme one step further, with the liner notes for the song saying, "It's sad that the darker side of metal gets most of the attention" -- going on to state that these groups are "pawns in an evil game." It is a bit of a shock to hear other religious themes such as forgiveness and the coming of Christ delivered in such a brutal, hard rockin' fashion. Brought to you by Steve Rowe (the main man behind Mortification), Ultimatum show that Christian metal can be of the take-no-prisoners style, which preaching their beliefs to a world gone mad with millennium fever. With Satan getting all of the press and attention these days, here's wishing the guys of Ultimatum the best of luck. Oh, and follow the lyric sheet for maximum impact!

LITANY by VADER (Metal Blade Records)

Vader is death metal for the thinking man. Brutal, aggressive and in your face, the music of the mighty Vader is a testament to how very great this genre can be. Thereís a very important message Vader wishes to convey: "Chose your own enemy and conquer your hatred" -- these are the words contained on the spine of the disc and within the lyrical thoughts of Vader. Even though the message is positive, there are songs like "The Final Massacre" which speaks of a world consumed by its hatred and paranoia. Litany is filled with thought provoking lyrics and heavier than hell blasts of dynamic sound. Based out of Poland, Vader prove once again with this new album why they are one of the most respected death metal bands in the world. Do bang your freakiní head, but make sure you read through the lyric sheet at least once for maximum impact.

LIVE IN JAPAN by VADER (Pavement Music)

Vader was formed in 1986, and have the distinction of being the first Eastern Bloc metal band to be signed to a Western label. Hailing from Olsztyn, Poland, Vader has become one of the most influental death metal bands ever. And now, they have their second live release out -- entitled LIVE IN JAPAN, it features 60 minutes of proof as to why Vader has so many fans from all around the world. They certainly put on a brutal show, the CD featuring such favorites as "Black To The Blind," "Reign In Blood," "Dark Age," and "Distant Dream." In addition, they perform a cover of "Black Sabbath" as a tribute to a band that has been so influental to them. Vader will be playing a few shows here in the States, so be sure to check them out! If they are anything like this dynamic live album, all US death metalheads are in for a bangin' good time!


Slayer has been such an influential part of the metal scene, it only makes sense that there are so many tribute albums dedicated to their music. Gateway To Hell 2 is definitely one of the best! Fifteen tracks of pure terrorism are contained, and there isnít a dud in the bunch. The stand-out performances include "Hell Awaits" by Incantation, "Mandatory Suicide" by Enter Self, "Crionics" by Abigor, "Kill Again" by Angel Corpse, and "Black Majic" by Thy Infernal. Not only does this collection serve as an introduction to a good number of up and coming bands, but itís a fitting tribute to the demonic insanity known as the mighty Slayer! Required for all fans of Slayer and the new metal underground.


An extremely influential band in the heavy metal genre, there have been many tribute albums in honor of the mighty Judas Priest. One of the latest is Delivering The Goods, a second volume from Century Media that, in all aspects, is just as impressive as a regular Priest album. The bands paying tribute are top notch and perform the various covers with style and vigor. These are big name groups weíre taking about here, some of them with impressive catalogs worthy of tributes themselves.

The CD opens with Gamma Ray performing a dynamic live rendition of "Exciter," featuring original member Ralf Scheepers on vocals. The Gamma Ray guys also contribute "Victim Of Changes" as well, and their version is impressive. U.D.O. really deliver the goods with their primal version of "Metal Gods." Other highlights include Radakka covering Night Crawler, Devin Townsendís interpretation of "Sinner," and Iron Saviorís inspired remake of "Desert Plains." And closing out the disc on a grand, head banging note is the Judas Priest classic "Another Thing Cominí," performed by the equally charismatic Saxon. A fine tribute that is required listening for all fans of those metal legends who go by the name of Judas Priest!


The music found on ÷DEMARKENS SON is grand Viking metal at it's finest! Sung entirely in Swedish, Vintersorg takes the listener on a magical journey through the majestic forests of olden times. The metallic guitars mix well with the traditional folk arrangements on the album, creating a memorable atmospheric sound. Whether it's the haunting clean vocals or the fiery black metal passages, the narration Vintersorg provides is extremely effective. Highlights include the sweeping title track, the acoustic based "Svaltvinter," the mysterious "Pa Landet," and the dynamic opening cut "Nar Alver Sina Runor Sjungit." Along with his folk band Oytg, Vintersorg is creating quite a stir with his adventurous take on modern metal. ÷DEMARKENS SON by Vintersorg is a thrilling work of art -- even though Vintersorg may speak his ideas in a different language, the grandoise feeling of the music is truly universal! Highly recommended!!!

VINTERSORG: Click here to read our interview with this band!!!

FIREREICH by WALHALLA (The Root Of All Evil Records)

Walhalla is an all out assault unit from Finland who base their grim sounds in the Black and Thrash metal arenas. Featuring members of Thy Serpent, Soulgrind and Gloomy Grim, Walhalla establish themselves as a brutal force to be reckoned with. With demonic vocals and extreme head banging riffs, the songs that grind into your very soul include "Helldivision," "Valkyrie," "Winterfuhrer," and "War Over Nordland." FIREREICH is the soundtrack to start the next world war with, a collection of blackened battle anthems that should excite (not to mention incite) metal fans the world over! Now available domestically from The Root Of All Evil Records!

WE ARE WAR by WAR (Necropolis Records)

No, stupid mortals, this is not that band who sings "Low Rider" and "Why Can't We Be Friends." Judging by the sonic assault these guys spew forth, I really doubt whether this War cares if you are their friend or not! This is anti-Christian Black Metal at it's most venonous, making bands like Dimmu Borgir look like they're having a tea party at Sunnybrook Farm. Featuring All of Vondur and Opthalamia plus Blackmoon of Dark Funeral, War have aimed their guns at being the most brutal of the current Black Metal army, and there is no doubt that they certainly are! Their chilling anthem-like assaults include "Soldiers Of Satan," "Kill God" and "We Are War." Buy this CD and prepare for an attack on your senses, for they are War, and have declared the Black Metal market their unholy domain! This is the album to play LOUD when the f*cking world ends!!!


With an album title like that, Willow Wisp are just asking opportunistic critics to take a swipe at them. And while some actually have, it's hard to ignore the fact that these guys are one of the most entertaining metal acts to ever come out of Los Angeles. The music of Willow Wisp is all over the map ó goth, death and black metal co-exist while retaining a stunning amount of creative flair and cohesiveness throughout. All this, and many of the lyrics have a certain poetic sense of (morbid) humor about them. Kicking it all off on a campy yet wildly infectious note, "As They Age, They Engage" is a tune that will twist around in your feverished little brain for ages. "God Has Abandoned Us" opens with a hysterical preacher monologue and then switches into high thrashing gear with it's over-the-top blasphemies. "7-8-69 -?" is a recited list consisting of the many ways one can meet an untimely demise, rapped to haunted house style music. "Your Children Shall Take Me As Lord" is a melodramatic goth track with deep, effective vocals while "Copulation In Thy Paranormal Forest" is a dark thrasher in the grand tradition of Witchery and the mighty WAR!!! There are many other highlights on DELUSION OF GRANDEUR, all winding down with a macabre track entitled "Time: A Journey Through Failure" featuring grim keyboards and a chilling monk choir.

Willow Wisp must be commended for bringing imagination and spirit into a genre that tends to take itself too damn seriously. While most metal bands stick to tried and true (not to mention tired) formulas. Willow Wisp dare to push musical boundaries to sometimes illogical yet always interesting extremes. It's a strange and demented world that Willow Wisp inhabit, but one that more adventurous musical types are sure to enjoy.


There are many terms and genres you may use to describe the strange instrumental music of Windham Hell, but each one barely catches on to what this band is all about. With classical, black metal and avant-garde influences, Windham Hell has become a true cult favorite with various factions of musicians and hardcore metal fanatics. The pieces are atmospheric and dramatic with baroque touches and an occasional scary vocal thrown about here and there. Reflective Depths Inbibe is Windham Hellís third album, and itís an experience that must be heard once to be believed and several times over again to be fully appreciated. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, these guys can thrill you with their loud, sonic passages and lull you into a state of hypnotic splendor within the quieter moments. In addition to their own quirky compositions, Windham Hell has also included a cover originally written by classical composer Felix Mendelssohn. If Yngwie were to have a complete nervous breakdown and collaborate with the like of both Satan and Yanni (the same entity?), the result would come out sounding a lot like the weird and wondrous Windham Hell. Let the new age of progressive metal begin!!!

DEAD HOT AND READY by WITCHERY (Necropolis Records)

Those lucky enough to see The Kings Of Terror Tour watched as Witchery stole the show, bringing a good deal of morbid fun to the otherwise dead-serious proceedings. And it's good to see that their dynamic live shows tranlate well in a studio setting. DEAD HOT AND READY is a blast of infectious metal glory and is one of the best recordings Necropolis has ever unleashed. Included within the band's membership are bassist Sharlee D'Angelo of Mercyful Fate and guitarist Patrick Jensen of The Haunted. The real discovery of Witchery is Toxine, whose fierce vocal meanderings are brutal and imaginative. The other Witchery dudes are Richard Corpse on guitar and Miquee on drums. Despite the star players who appear in other more famous bands, Witchery does not have the sound of some lame side project. The playing is solid and the tunes grab you by the throat! Top songs on DEAD HOT AND READY include "Demonification," "The Guillotine," "The Devil And The Damage Done," and "On A Black Horse Thru Hell." So as we wait for Witchery's next flight to the States, get under their great metallic spell and acquire a copy of the mighty DEAD HOT AND READY! It's just diverse enough to please the black pack, the death dudes, and the traditional metalheads too!


Black metal is alive and well in the USA, thanks to bands like Witch-Hunt who show that the genre need not be exclusively European. Consisting of two members who play all the instruments, Witch-Hunt is a chilling journey through nightmarish darkness that is both melodic and brutal. Stand-out tracks include "Ablaze Thy Majestic Kingdom," "Under Black Celestial Skies," "Enshrouded" (good use of keyboards here), and "Firestorms Of Armageddon." Witch-Hunt is based out of Virginia, and will easily appeal to those who like their black metal filled with barbaric intensity. In addition to core Witch-Hunt members Erik Sayenga and Seth Newton, Dawn Smith from Rain Fell Within contributes all the operatic female vocals. Souls Enshrouded Fire is required for those who want to discover some of the best black metal that the States has to offer.

WOLF by WOLF (No Fashion Records/House Of Kicks)

Wolf play that trashy, old fashioned heavy metal that recalls the spirited early 80ís, before the genre became commercial and user friendly. Hailing from Sweden, Wolfís self titled CD is an impressive debut, heavy as hell and filled with nine tracks of pure aggression. As exciting as the Hammerfall debut, Wolf really know how to execute a melody and still remain strikingly raw and intensive. Songs destined to become instant classics amongst metal fanatics include the dynamic opening cut "In The Shadow Of Steel," the fiery metal assault of "The Parasite," and the mystical "In The Eyes Of The Sun." Produced by Wolf and Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) at Studio Abyss, this first effort could be the start of something really big! Submit to the mighty sounds of the Swedish Wolf! Cool cover artwork too!


The Campaign Begins This Summer

METAL BLADE RECORDS:The great metal record label!!!
RELAPSE RECORDS: Home to Incantation, Nile, Neurosis and more!
LAKE OF TEARS : Their album "Forever Autumn" Coming Soon!!!.
CREMATORY:Gothic Metal from Europe that Rocks!
HECATE ENTRONED:Evil Black Metal now with brand new vocalist!
MENTAL HOME: A Russian Doom Metal Band.
IMMORTAL DOMINION: Brutal metal from Colorado.
REPULSE RECORDS: Home to Deeds Of Flesh and other extreme metal bands.
THE END RECORDS: Cool underground Metal label.
NUCLEAR BLAST AMERICA: Home to Hammerfall, Death, Raise Hell and more.
BLACK MARK PRODUCTION: Home to Bathory, Edge Of Sanity, Dan Swano and more.
DAN SWANO: Former vocalist for Edge Of Sanity
HAMMERFALL: One of the best metal bands in Europe today!
LORD BELIAL: Evil black metal from Sweden!
FATES WARNING: Great Progressive Metal Band!
MANEGARM/DISPLEASED RECORDS: Info on Manegarm, the best Black Metal band on the planet!
ENVY NO ONE: Interesting band I've encountered on the Web.
INCANTATION: Grinding U.S. Metal!
NILE: More grinding U.S. metal!
PATHOS : Awesome European Heavy Metal on Black Mark!
MORGANA LEFAY: European Power Metal on Black Mark!
TAD MOROSE: More cool European Power Metal on Black Mark.
DEEDS OF FLESH: Heavy Death Metal Band from Southern California!
HIGHWIRE DAZE INTERVIEWS MANEGARM: Swedish Black Metal Band Interviewed by The K-Monster!
HIGHWIRE DAZE INTERVIEWS PATHOS: An Interview with a Gothenburg Heavy Metal Band
HELLOWEEN: The site to explore for all Helloween fans!
SCHOLOMANCE: Inspired Metal from Willard, Missouri!
AVRIGUS: Doom Metal band from Australia.
MY DYING BRIDE :Fantastic Doom Metal Band!
FLESHCRAWL:Brutal European Death Metal!
IN AETERNUM:Heavy European Black Metal That is EEEEEEVVVIILLLL!!!
DEATHWITCH:Sick Black Death from Sweden!
CREMATORIUM:Death Metal from Hell-A!
GOLGOTHA (A FAN PAGE):An awesome Goth/Doom Metal Band from Spain.
LIEGELORD:Power Metal at it's very best!!!
ICED EARTH:Awesome U.S. Power Metal!
PROPHANITY:The true Heavy Metal Warriors!!
DRAINED:The Official Drained Web Page!
AMSVARTNER:The Official Amsvartner Home Page!
AGATHODAIMON:The Agathodaimon Home Page!
SOUL DESTRUCTION: Way cool Metal from Columbus, Ohio!!!
OPTERASIS: Cool new Black Metal band from Central Massachusetts!

THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page.

Dargaard's Official Homepage

The Desecration Official Homepage

The Mactatus Horde

Hollenthon's Official Homepage

Mornaland's Official Homepage


Hollywood, California

Nedstat Counter

This page has been visited times.