Harsh Toke – Light Up and Live – Music Stream

April 29, 2014

The name Harsh Toke might get you thinking this is some aggressive stoner stuff, but “Plug In To The Moon,” from the band’s debut record, reveals that this San Diego crew is really much more interested in some cosmic feel-good vibes.

Ihsahn – Das Seelenbreche – Music Stream

April 28, 2014

With last year’s release, there are now more Ihsahn solo records than there were Emperor records, so I think it’s safe to say the former Emperor frontman is committed to this new life of relentless experimentation.

Devin Townsend Project – The Retinal Circus – Music Stream

April 11, 2014

It was only a matter of time before mad scientist Devin Townsend filmed a rock opera. His solo material often soars into operatic territory, then divebombs, roaring vocal hellfire and shrieking metallic death from the skies. He and his merry band of pranksters are as comfortable with gospel choirs as blastbeats, life-affirming, glowing choruses, and deathy bellows of Satan’s worst toothache.

Earthless – From the Ages – Music Stream

April 10, 2014

First rec in six years, and it’s a doozie! This instrumental trio is heavy blues jam, first and foremost, with space, Sabbath, and psychedelia flavors added to the meaty stew. While there are only four songs, two clock in at a wink under 15 minutes, one tops out at 5 minutes, and the closer title track gives itself over 30 minutes of breathing room.

Owls – Two – Music Stream

April 8, 2014

Owls are a satisfying throwback to a time when emo rock hadn’t yet evolved into an overly sleek, whiny mess of a movement. Originally on the scene for a brief time in the early 2000s, the group is back after a decade-plus hiatus, and they sound fantastic.

Legion Of The Damned – Ravenous Plague – Music Stream

April 7, 2014

Head-down, serious thrash from the Netherlands. “Summon All Hate” sounds like a long lost Kreator song title, and even if the meat-and-potatoes thrash of the song itself isn’t distinctive enough to draw sonic comparisons to the German masters, it’s reliably solid nonetheless.

Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late – Music Stream

April 4, 2014

Ronnie Radke has many skills, but making smart musical choices is not among them. While able to layer his voice beautifully, and write catchy choruses most pop metal and pop punk bands would kill for, he writes some of the worst lyrics you’ll ever try to scrub from memory, and he believes in his statements so earnestly, it’s really embarrassing.

The Crimson ProjeKCt – Live In Tokyo – Music Stream

April 3, 2014

Featuring two sets of three King Crimson alum (Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto; Markus Reuter, Julie Slick and Tobias Ralph) and using the “double trio” approach that KC favored in the ’90s, The Crimson ProjeKCt is a suitably ambitious offshoot from the legendary prog masters.

Def-Con-One – II – Music Stream

April 2, 2014

Pure opening-act mediocrity from the UK. Def-Con-One is a throwback to scores of second stage Ozzfest bands from the late ’90s-early ’00s, many of whom were charming in their ability to aggressively move a crowd without any particularly inspiring material.

Veara – Growing Up Is Killing Me – Music Stream

April 1, 2014

Georgia’s Veara remind me of the glut of good-but-indestinguishable pop punk bands of the late ’90s. They have heart, they have skills, but they haven’t found their unique voice by their second album, and really, that’s ok.

Letlive – The Blackest Beautiful – Music Stream

March 31, 2014

Pop raps (remember 311? No?) and Linkin Park clean vocals offset with screaming and metal groove are a mix bound to sell. While the lyrics sound like high school notebook scribbles, the production and style of “Banshee (Ghost Fame)” is darn addictive.

Slough Feg – Digital Resistance – Music Stream

March 21, 2014

Slough Feg wastes no time delivering fuzzy NWOBHM feelings on “Digital Resistance,” the title track of their ninth studio album. Galloping guitars, wailing riffs, measured storytelling – it’s a time machine back to the time when giants like Maiden and Angel Witch first scoured the earth.

Eldritch – Tasting The Tears – Music Stream

March 20, 2014

Intriguing, moody power metal from Italy. Incredibly (for this genre), the singer doesn’t overplay it, so the recitation of the song title doesn’t sound like whining nor like he’s trying to pierce the heavens like the second coming of Tim Owens.

Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage – Music Stream

March 19, 2014

Last time I saw these dudes (and gals, of course), they killed it back in 2000 at the Tattoo the Earth Festival. I shouldn’t have worried that they might have lost some of their whirlwind energy in the years between.

Indian – From All Purity – Music Stream

March 7, 2014

Indian sure know how to scare off the weak ones: The opening track of their new record, From All Purity, is a howling hell hole of a song, recalling Made Out of Babies at their most cathartic. Plus, it’s called “Rape.”

Behemoth – The Satanist – Music Stream

January 31, 2014

Behemoth frontman Nergal (not Nermal, Garfield’s nemesis) has defeated leukemia and hosted a Polish version of The Voice talent show, all while creating brutal death metal in his spare time, so it’s kind of hard not to root for the guy.

Dum Dum Girls – Too True – Music Stream

January 30, 2014

My brother-in-law saw this band open up for Ben Gibbard a while back, and his zero-word review was a lethargic shoulder shrug. So I didn’t have high hopes going in to this but, hey, maybe they’ve improved with age. Maybe not.

Satan’s Wrath – Aeons of Satan’s Reign – Music Stream

January 29, 2014

These dudes from Greece may have the black metal Satanist thing down cold (“666” appears twice in their – truly evil – Facebook address), but the sound of Satan’s Wrath is actually much closer to traditional heavy metal than it is to the storms of the antichrist that Watain or others kick up.

Weekend Nachos – Still – Music Stream

January 28, 2014

These 90 seconds of hate go by fast, but “Satan Sucker” still manages to cram in an unsettling intro, a freight train midsection, and a lurching, menacing outro before you can come up for air.

Naam – Vow – Music Stream

January 27, 2014

Psych-rockers Naam return with their most cohesive to date. With Hawkwind and Iron Butterfly on the mind, Namm forge their own meandering path through the cosmos and desertscapes.

Marmozets – Music Stream

January 9, 2014

This clunkily-named band has angsty roar, belted-out melodies, and some tenderness (watch for the knife beneath the pillow), slathered atop powerpop riffery and stick-twirling rock-a-rama drumming.

Matt Pryor – Wrist Slitter – Music Stream

January 8, 2014

The Get-Up Kids have been the butt of many of my emo/bad indie rock jokes. The band got less terrible with every release, as the cute college girls I assigned to review them for the magazine often noted. I actually liked their cover of The Cure’s “Close to You” on Before You Were Punk Vol. 2. Liked, I say.

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