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 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint 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 best traditional heavy metal releases that I’ve overlooked this year, presented for your metal health. 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’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 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 am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks focus was curated . Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. 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.
|Title [Type/Year]||Highway of Heroes [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from The Sign Records|
Ljungby, Sweden based heavy metal band Screamer have been pretty well in line with retro 80’s styled traditional metal a la country-mates Enforcer and Ambush since forming in 2009; They’ve not moved away from that sound in any drastic sense on their fourth album ‘Highway of Heroes’ but they have slowly started to differentiate themselves across this last decade. Where the band’s evolution starts to show comes with closer attention paid to their songwriting skills, particularly the more memorable mid-period NWOBHM influenced ‘anthemic’ side shown on this latest record. “Rider of Death” was a great highlight for my taste, with an incredible driving rhythm and anthemic 80’s heavy rock choruses. I was pretty disappointed in the most recent Enforcer album so I appreciated this one just a little bit more as it filled that void.
|Title [Type/Year]||Towards Victory [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Ironguard|
Fredericia, Denmark epic heavy metal band Ironguard have been hard at work on their 80’s/early 90’s power metal influenced sound since 2008. Members of Altar of Oblivion, Encyrcle, and an ex-member of Vanir round out the line-up and suggest a well considered full-length with professional recording quality. The history of the the band is interesting as it was founded prior to 2008 as a solo power metal outfit and that founding member would exit around 2014 and it’d seem the pieces fell together faster after that point. Although it is primarily a power metal album, ‘Towards Victory’ does have a healthy shot of speed metal influence throughout which helps keep things interesting for my tastes. I’m not yet sure what the specific identity of Ironguard is, but I didn’t ultimately find the album special or above par.
|Title [Type/Year]||Curse of the Sky [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Gates of Hell Records|
Kuopio, Finland epic/folkish heavy metal duo Iron Griffin is a side project created by Oskari Räsänen, the drummer of Mausoleum Gate. I’ve seen fairly polarized takes on their debut album ‘Curse of the Sky’ in the months since release though I’m not sure it stands out enough to warrant any sort of strong reaction. At one point I’d see this compared to Brocas Helm and that is perhaps the furthest comparison from the truth and I’d suggest Warlord or Slough Feg are a bit closer but with an occult rock vocalist. The production is subtle and the guitar tone is generally lacking so the result is a quiet mid-paced jog of a record with a few anthemic moments. I get the appeal of this sound design but I think they need another pass or two to really achieve the full potential of this project.
|Title [Type/Year]||Break the Trance [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Shadow Kingdom Records|
Every year there are albums that haunt me for the fact that I’ll sit there and try to piece together an interesting review about them and end up with zilch. ‘Break the Trance’ is an energetic and heavily melodic heavy metal album from Fatal Curse and I’ve still for sure got very little to say about it. The band formed in 2016 between members of New York underground extreme metal projects and they’d begin focusing on tightly wound NWOBHM styled rockin’-ass speed/heavy metal, a bit like if Savage Master had a different vocalist. What kept me coming back to ‘Break the Trance’ was the trios energetic delivery of these otherwise pretty standard heavy metal songs and it helped that the record was barely a half hour long. There is yet a lot of depth to be added to what Fatal Curse do but they’re off to a fine start with this debut.
|Title [Type/Year]||Heavy Metal Macht [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Dying Victims Productions|
The debut EP from Essen, Germany based band Spiker is as traditional and straightforward as is possible within the realm of German heavy metal. They almost appear to struggle through the subtler sound of these 4-5 minute heavy rock/metal songs which tend to stick with one tempo and ride throughout the song. This is fine and it all feels appropriately 80’s but, the whole execution of the songs ends up sounding pretty green. One of the guitarists has recently joined Attic so I’m curious to see if that’ll take priority beyond this EP.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Great War [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Nuclear Blast|
Sabaton have become one of the more popular power metal bands in Sweden today thanks to their bouncy, celebratory form of melodic power metal. It helps that their focus on concept albums centered on military history provides a bit of extra nerd edge along the way. They are deep lovers of history and put a lot of thought into their lyrics despite how chipper and ‘pop’ some of it can seam. Although Sabaton can appear quite goofy there is something to be said for memorable and highly performative experiences like ‘The Great War’. It isn’t really my ‘thing’ but still worth a listen or two.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cursed and Punished [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Metal on Metal Records|
Portuguese thrashers Toxikull are full of loudly shrieking energy a la Lääz Rockit (or Artillery) right out of the gates on their debut ‘Cursed and Punished’. The cranked energy of this sophomore full-length doesn’t necessarily let up and it can range from full on Halford power-thrash up towards hook-filled heavy/speed metal a la Enforcer. These guys really shine when it is time to shred out a few thrash riffs but they kinda go through the motions when the riffs begin to chill out a bit. I was impressed by the full sound of the recording and the sharp edge of the guitar tone but I’d ultimately wanted either more riffs or a more dynamic vocal performance.
|Title [Type/Year]||Deathwalkers [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Pitch Black Records|
The lightly progressive metal influenced heavy metal of Greek band Lightfold does a fine job of suggesting progressive music without ever fully embracing it. This does appear to be delivered from a Christian perspective though ‘Deathwalkers’ deals largely with concepts of duality that aren’t always entirely monotheistic in nature. For progressive power metal I’d say this is a reasonably measured set of songs, nothing too over the top but still unique in atmospheric values. I’d say the wheelhouse would be 90’s progressive metal that’d moved on from thrash metal fully but I’m not particularly studied in this style. The full listen is a bit sleepy and overly long at ~65 minutes but it is by no means a bad spin.
|Title [Type/Year]||A New World [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Pure Steel Records|
Obscure NWOBHM legends Millennium are back with a second full-length since reforming in 2015 and it manages to be a worthy follow up to ‘Awakening’ (2017) which I’d liked a fair amount. There are a few songs that feel more like Testament than their softer early 80’s incarnation (“World War 3”) but at no point is that any sort of major detractor. Mark Duffy‘s vocals are probably going to be the polarizing part of the whole as his gruff shouts often rant on in a not-so-melodic sort of way that can be grating, the lyrics made up for this in my mind and many of these songs are extremely catchy.
|Title [Type/Year]||Them Witches [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Gates of Hell Records|
Groningen, Netherlands heavy metal act Vortex were one of the most inspired heavy metal groups from their country well into the mid-to-late 80’s when the band would generally call it quits until the late 90’s. When they did return it’d seem they were even more enthused than in their earliest heyday, putting out a new record every 3-5 years since. ‘Them Witches’ is not only the sixth full-length from the band but it also represents their 40th year anniversary as an entity. This record sounds like Vortex have always sounded, a true heavy metal band that’d never looked beyond 1988 for ideas, including a cutting speed metal guitar tone and a sort of ‘evil metal’ vibe a la early Oz or Axe Witch. Great album, just a bit too long at 50+ minutes.
Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please consider a small donation to help keep me in front of the computer writing about music. Thanks.
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