Ten From the Tomb 11/24/18: Kill with power – Die! Die!

TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.

Here I present a ten album sampler of some of the absolute best damn traditional, epic, melodic, power heavy metal releases I’ve so far overlooked this year. Consider it a soundtrack meant to lift your self above whatever goddamn nonsense is clouding your mind. Use any mounting personal tribulations as strength to swing your bloodthirsty sword harder against the limbs of life’s damning weight. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you don’t like heavy metal, relax! This’ll be back every seven days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I missed them! I always have some quality control in mind and looked for expressive, meaningful or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This week’s inspiration came from Patreon members, who vote in a poll every two weeks to decide what genre (or combination of genres) that’ll be covered in this regular column. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.


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Artist Silver Talon
Title [Type/Year] Becoming a Demon [EP/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The abrupt end of Spellcaster has splintered into two very different but no less impressive projects. The first is Idle Hands, a mixture of pure heavy metal and gothic rock that provides one of the deeper ear-worming experiences of the year. The second comes from Silver Talon, a power/heavy metal group that lands somewhere between classic Savatage and the first Sanctuary record’s Priest worship. Several members are shared between each Spellcaster offshoot but this one borrows Sanctifyre vocalist Wyatt Howell, who is very much a classic heavy metal vocalist; His style dominates the EP and reminds me of 80’s Halford meets John Bush (Armoured Saint) which suits the early 90’s style of North American/Eastern European influenced power metal they play. At over 30 minutes this’d just as well have been an admirable debut full-length with one more original (a Sanctuary cover is included feat. Jeff Loomis).


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Artist Icarus Witch
Title [Type/Year] Goodbye Cruel World [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

There are few bands that kicked their way into the second half of the 2000’s new wave of traditional heavy metal as confidently as Icarus Witch did in fusing classic 80’s US power metal grit with catchy heavy rock songs. Only now are bands like Cauldron catching up with the style this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania band were known for yet it seems like the trouble they’ve had staffing the band has delayed its overall discography and sometimes alienated fans dedicated to certain records. The same trouble that affects a group like Iced Earth or Iron Maiden dogs Icarus Witch in that their taste for melody driven songwriting requires a unique but pitch perfect vocalist. Going through seven drummers in fourteen years is no big deal for certain types of music but, the transition between a series of three vocalists creates a greater separation between fandom.

Original vocalist Matthew Bizilia (Habitual Sins) gave the band three solid enough records and folks seemed revolted by his replacement for ‘Rise’ (2012), Christopher Shaner. Though Shaner was fine enough the band would largely go dark until his exit in 2017 with prolific multi-instrumentalist Andrew D’Cagna (Nechochwen, Obsequiae, Coldfells) taking over. I wasn’t aware of D’Cagna‘s vocal talents as I primarily knew him from various extreme metal records he’d played on. His inclusion along with session drummer Jon Rice (ex-Job For a Cowboy, Uncle Acid) makes for a newly polished Icarus Witch sound that doesn’t try to emulate the sound of the 1980’s but certainly the spirit and style of that classic period of rock music where bands like Scorpions, W.A.S.P., and Dokken kept some semblance of heaviness alive in popular rock music. There is no doubt that classic Queensryche influences Quinn Lukas and Jason Myers‘ songwriting but they do a pretty good job of not getting entirely lost in typically hokey self-indulgences of AOR leaning heavy metal. Nonetheless you will find even the best Icarus Witch album requires some love for 80’s cheese rock, for my own taste I admire the lead guitar and vocal work above the songwriting.


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Artist Valkyria
Title [Type/Year] Tierra Hostil [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Nobody would blame you for getting excited about your favorite band named ‘Valkyrie’ releasing a new album but it might be necessary to check the spelling of the bandname and make sure you know which country they came from. This is Valkyria from the Basque country in Spain (Bilbao specifically) and they play a fusion of heavy metal and traditional power metal. Xtreem Music sub-label Fighter Records has done an incredible job of representing the traditional heavy metal surging through Spain and related territories and Valkyria is perhaps one of my favorites this year next to Witchfyre and Swedish band Candle. This one is very much for the power metal fandom and it comes with beautifully expressive Spanish sung vocals and plenty of driving power metal riffs. It isn’t ‘speed metal’ enough for my own tastes but ‘Tierra Hostil’ was a joy to listen to, very entertaining.


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Artist Osmium Guillotine
Title [Type/Year] A Million to One [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If for whatever reason you’d been wanting a snapshot of whatever heavy metal scene exists in Essex, England just about a million kids in their twenties spend their free time hopping in and out of a giant list of bands and Osmium Guillotine have been one of the better ones for the last decade. Punkish in attitude and NWOBHM in spirit ‘A Million to One’ is a corny, half-serious good time among friends; It is also safely the best recording and overall package the folks involved have chunked together since forming. I was not inspired by the album after a few listens but nonetheless felt the project as a whole worthy of mention.


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Artist Hammer King
Title [Type/Year] Poseidon Will Carry Us [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

How over the top can early 90’s style European power metal get thematically? Well, the fact that Hammer King have made entire albums that tell the story of a hammer’s journey towards domination of several kingdoms and still aren’t the craziest thing out there says something. I love and support this type of catchy, highly melodic heavy metal because it is exemplar of the world of difference that minor key metal provides. These guys are from Kaiserslautern, Germany and have been playing in power metal bands together since the early 90’s as Bad Mean Tone, Ivory Night, and Hammer King since Ivory Night‘s ‘The Healing’ (2010). They remind me of early HammerFall a great deal and it should likewise be no surprise that members not only had their own Manowar cover band but they also played in Ross the Boss‘ (Death Dealer, ex-Manowar) solo outfit for some time. They’re season pros at this type of stuff and ‘Poseidon Will Carry Us Home’ is the strongest of their three full-lengths thus far.


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Artist Immortal Guardian
Title [Type/Year] Age of Revolution [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you became allergic to the ultra-shred of prog-power metal in the early 2000’s you might want to start running now because Immortal Guardian bring it back with the cheese-blasting from cannons on ‘Age of Revolution’. NovaReign did something similar with their debut ‘Legends’ earlier this year but where that record was nearly power/thrash metal in style Immortal Guardian are way far out in Symphony X, early-ish Kamelot, and DragonForce territory on their debut. The main reason I mention this record here is that I listened to a ton of power metal this year and passed on basically all of it; I may not like modern power metal, at all but I felt like this was the one band who at least brought back that style that folks ate up back in the day.


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Artist Serpent’s Kiss
Title [Type/Year] Dragon Lord [Full-album/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Welsh heavy/power metal band Serpent’s Kiss had been beating around on the kit since the early 2000’s but their style was always rooted with influence in classic NWOBHM with members having more or less kicking around back in those days as well. Most notably guitarist Will Philpot (ex-Omen UK) was instrumental in the reformation of Millennium. Serpent’s Kiss was likewise resurrected with the sourcing of a new vocalist and ‘Dragon Lord’ serves as the projects first official and professional release since formation. Strong dual leads and galloping riffs make for a blend of classic power metal, epic heavy metal, and heavy/hard rock sounds.


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Artist Wild
Title [Type/Year] Sin Piedad [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you’re the type to miss out on a record because it is sung in any language other than English you have sorely missed out on a considerable percentage of the world’s output. In particular the Spanish language lends itself beautifully to melodic music, far better than even French in terms of ‘romance languages’. Madrid, Spain based heavy/power metal group Wild began as Majesty Night in 2002 but have come along way since then with their third full-length ‘Sin Piedad’. I felt a lot more speed metal influence coming through on this record than the two previous and enjoyed the performance from Mercurio vocalist José García, who has since left the band, in particular.


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Artist Madog
Title [Type/Year] Raven [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Spotify!

Hailing on high from Landskron, Austria Madog are a heavy metal band that is primarily influenced by 80’s-90’s power metal as they first formed in 1991. Formed by the brothers Zedrosser in Villach the band would spend the entirety of the 90’s establishing themselves as a live band and wouldn’t release their first album ‘Dreamland’ in 2000 which was quickly followed by ‘Fairytales of Darkness’ a year later. It’d be 17 years until they’d put out ‘Raven’ and while it seems they had it ready in 2016 it appeared earlier this year. Clearly hard-fought and only possible to achieve on their own terms ‘Raven’ is an epic heavy metal record primarily informed by power metal influences but without the prog metal excess of typical modern power metal. Like most bands on this list Madog are driven by strong melodies and fairly inspired guitar work. They aren’t a flamboyant sounding group on the record and Hans Zedrosser‘s vocals are typically very serious and driven, the whole experience is very much in the tradition of pre-Helloween power metal and I ended up really enjoying ‘Raven’.


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Artist Wytch Hazel
Title [Type/Year] II: Sojourn [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Lancaster, England Christian hard rock/heavy metal band Wytch Hazel find a decent medium between the mid 70’s jog of Thin Lizzy and the 80’s heavy metal you’d expect from similarly influenced artists like High Spirits. Although I do not appreciate the ridiculously bland subject of the Christian faith, and find the sort of lyrics these guys write absolutely verge on childish sanctimony at times, most of ‘II: Sojourn’ is a very good mix of NWOBHM and Lynott-isms. Think along the lines of early Demon (UK) with the casual bop of a band like Gygax keeping the occult boogeymen away. There were far, far too many Thin Lizzy aping bands in 2018 and this would be a decent fifth or six choice after Haunt, Hypnos, Wheel in the Sky, Glanville, etc.


Did I miss your favorite 2018 black metal album? I’d like to know if there are any 2018 releases you loved that didn’t get enough recognition. Drop me a line to tell me! It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

 

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