Rounding up new releases from The Ocean, Def Leppard, Ghost, Sleep Token, Yes, Frozen Soul, Blindfolded and Led to the Woods, Shadows, Gozu, Chronicle, VHS, Botanist and more.

a year ago

Top Picks

Shadows – Out for Blood (blackened heavy metal)

Shadows don’t mess around. That silhouette of a horse-drawn carriage and gothic font (not to mention the book-ending S’s) instantly communicate everything you need to know about Out for Blood. This is an album for fans of classic King Diamond, packed full of Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy Osbourne guitar riffs, run through a Zakk Wylde filter, with an added splash of Sumerlands sensibility and an occasional hint towards Turbonegro-esque melodicism for good measure. I'd never heard of the Chilean act prior to today's roundup, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone zero-to–Beavis for an album so fast in my life (maybe for that first Sumerlands album).

If you can't tell already, this is a band who wear their influences well-and-truly on their sleeve. The album ends with a song called "Alissa" that sounds even closer to a certain Merciful Fate (or should that be "Erciful Fate"?) classic than its name so overtly suggests, but also with way better production. There's also a song called "Forgotten Rites" that sounds a hell of a lot like early Sepultura that comes complete with a triumphant “Arise!” at the end. Shadows aren't pretending to be anything they're not, but they also aren't mere imitators. All of the songs on Out for Blood would sit comfortably alongside, and often above, classic material from all of the bands mentioned above. This is heavy metal: pure and simple—providing a perfect accomplice to that rather good Ghost covers EP that's also out today, and a much needed antidote to the absolute snooze-fest that is the new Ocean album.

Blindfolded And Led To The Woods – Rejecting Obliteration (brutal progressive death metal)

If you're after something a bit more modern, then may I point you towards Blindfolded and Led to the Woods. Not the woods themselves, but rather New Zealand's hotly-tipped purveyors of brutal progressive death metal. The band already had a bit of a breakthrough moment with 2021's Nightmare Withdrawals and its delightfully titled follow-up outclasses it in every manner. The quintet have really leaned into the progressive side of their sound on Rejecting Obliteration, putting them mor ein line with pack leaders like Rivers of Nihil or even Fallujah while still delivering, grinding, doom-laden beatdowns that make the new Acacia Strain record(s) seem even more supurfluous than they already are. Rejecting Obliteration is still a way off being the kind of landmark release that Rivers of Nihil's Where Owls Know My Name (2018) or even Monolith (2015) before it were, but it strongly suggests that Blindfolded and Led to the Woods have an album like that in their (near) future.

Release Roundup

Age of the Wolf – A Pilgrimage to Nowhere (fuzzy death doom)

Alcatrazz – Take No Prisoners (hard rock)

All Hallow’s Evil – Coven (goth metal)

arjen lucassen’s supersonic revolution – golden age of music (dudes rock?)

Boiling Point – Humanize (sludgy groove death)

Botanist – VIII: Selenotrope (progressive post black metal)

By A Storm – Beware Of The Underdogs (hardcore punk)

Charonyx – Persistent Soul (thrash)

Chronicle – Where Chaos Thrives (progressive melodeath)

Citizen Rage – Harsh Reality (thrash)

Craving – Call of the Sirens (blackened melodeath)

Days Like These – Icon (elt pop, post hardcore)

Dark Age of Ruin – False Messiah and the Abstract (black metal)

Darklon – The Redeemer (heavy metal, thrash)

Def Leppard and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Drastic Symphonies (why tho?)

Deimhal – The Grand Gathering (black metal)

Draghoria – Dangerous Species (thrash)

Elitium – Wrong (death metal)

The End Of Six Thousand Years – The End Of Six Thousand Years (crusty post hardcore)

Frozen Soul – Glacial Domination (death metal, death doom)

Gallows Rites – Witchcraft And Necro Desecration (black thrash)

Ghost – Phantomime (heavy metal)

Ground Shaker – Rogue Asylum (alt rock)

Gozu – Remedy (sludgy stoner metal)

Heathen Hearts – No Light Left To Chase (hardcore, metalcore)

Henget – Beyond North Star (weird prog metal)

Heretoir – Wastelands (post black metal)

Horizon’s End – The Great Destroyer (prog metal)

A Horrible Death To A Horrible Man – Days Gone By (blackened post metal)

Idolos – Ajchikaj (progressive black metal)

Inferion – Inequity (blackened death metal?)

Last Rizla – Noise Without Decay (sludge)

Legacy of Brutality – Travellers to Nowhere (progressive melodeath)

Lockstep – Arrival (sad post metal)

Magick Touch – Cakes & Coffins (hard rock, heavy metal)

Megattack – Street Life (hair metal)

Millenium – The Sign of Evil (heavy metal)

Moor – Heavy Heart (sludgey post-metal)

Morgengrau – Sehnen der Finsternis (mellowblack)

Mystic Prophecy – Hellriot (heavy metal)

Nattehimmel – Mourningstar (black metal, goth doom)

Nexorum – Tongue of Thorns (blackened death metal)

The Ocean – Holocene (progressive post metal)

Omen Astra – The End Of Everything To See (crossover sludge)

Pa Vesh En – Martyrs (depressive blackened death doom)

Radien – Unissa palaneet (sludge doom)

Ring of Gyges – Metamorphosis (prog metal)

Roadwolf – Midnight Lightning (heavy metal, hard rock)

Sacred Outcry – Towers of Gold (power metal)

Sleep Token – Take Me Back To Eden (djenty crooncore)

Sporae Autem Yuggoth – …However It Still Moves (weird blackened death doom)

The Spruce Moose – Pyramid Scheme (moose metal)

Swazönd/Wolftread – Split (crusty blackened death metal)

Sweet & Lynch – Heart & Sacrifice (hard rock, hair metal)

Tankzilla – Tankzilla (hard rock)

Thulcandra – Hail The Abyss (blackened melodeath)

Todbringer – Tränen unter dem Kreuz (blackened death metal)

Tomb of Giants – Legacy of the Sword (trad thrash)

Tombstones In Their Eyes – Sea Of Sorrow (psychedelic prog rock)

Umbilichaos – Mourning Carnivals From Now On (sludge grind)

The Unslain – Descending (cringy prog thrash)

The Used – Toxic Positivity (please stop)

Vansidian – Reflecting the Shadows (powerful melodeath thrash)

VHS – Quest for the Mighty Riff (crossover death thrash)

Vnder A Crvmbling Moon – I: Oblivion (funeral doom)

Vomitheist – NekroFvneral (death metal)

Weapon – New Clear Power (thrash)

Wesele – Fin de siecle (black metal)

Wings of Steel – Gates of Twilight (heavy metal)

Yakuza – Sutra (sludgy alt prog?)

Yes – Mirror to the Sky (prog rock)

Joshua Bulleid

Published a year ago