Vukari: Divination

Vukari - Divination album cover This feels like bedroom music, but not in a Marvin Gaye type way. Some scenes are about the live experience, some are best suited for nightclubs and this album is best suited for a darkened bedroom. Vukari have spent a lot of time working on atmosphere and ambience here. The intro is chord based electronic waves before the second half kicks in with full band support charging forth in an aggressive black metal style.

“Cursus Honorum” slows the pace down to a more steady black metal beat, but we still get a strong atmospheric buzz to it, and this is maybe via the vocals which are bordering on the ‘not quite there’ at times – so is he actually singing from another dimension?!

What does set this apart from most black metal is the lead guitar breaks and it’s the rhythms sections that I find I start to get wonderfully lost in, lying comfortably in my bed especially midway when it breaks down in to a prog exploration! Vukari are not afraid to explore the further reaches of sonic blackened metal.

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Pestifere: Hope Misery Death

Pestifere - Hope Misery Death album cover Keep thinking happy thoughts, as this is a despondent one.

Minneapolis death rockers Pestifere have delivered a solid, very competent slab of death/thrash. It straddles well musically and allows a softer side to show occasionally bringing forth the band members musicality.

Pieces like “Dispirit” caress me like a gentle summers’ wind. But you don’t really want to know where that wind is coming from, as the following track “Suffer the Day” spews those gusts forth like the nuclear winter of atomic destruction!

Pestifere translates from French I think as ‘Plague’ or ‘Plague stricken’ so you get the idea. I love their creation of the post industrial apocalypse landscape and soundscape making me think back to the 80s very real atomic fear, and bands such as Sodom and Kreator. But this album has more to it than the bleak outlook, similarly to Kreator there are elements of lilting guitar leads that may even interest the Power Metal fans. Maybe.

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Mid-Year Top 10 Power Metal List

Well folks, half of 2016 is over. While this year may not have been kind to many of us, it has been exceptional for the world of metal. So many great albums have been released thus far, and many more to come. As ItH’s resident Power Metal dude, I’ve been especially happy with the sub-genre’s set of releases in these first six months. In total, I have listened to 78 Power Metal albums from January – June. Many of them were great, some were okay, and some were dreadful. For the ones that were great, I wanted to choose my 10 favorites for the first half of 2016. It was quite difficult, but I was able to cut it down.

Here, for you, are my top 10 favorite Power Metal albums for the first half of 2016:

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Armed With Books: Honestly, Honesty

Armed With Books - Honestly, Honesty album cover Moody, thoughtful angst ridden post hardcore sound, owing a lot to Ian Mackaye and the sounds he delivered to the world. Grandad Records will release the vinyl version of this debut album Honestly, Honesty on August 5 2016.

I get the feelings of frustration and pent-up stress not the full-blown despair that the sludge bands offer, this is a cleaner, lighter sound, but none the less it bubbles on the surface, letting you know that the geyser is just about to blow any minute! Armed with Books hold it together by balancing light touch gentle guitar work, before crashing cymbals and disdainful vocals remind us of the true reason they formed a band!

Armed With Books come from Norwich, the eastern side of England, which, as I have mentioned here before grows some awesome bands of different genres. Maybe it’s the North Sea coast that gives them their despondent disposition, but its great listening to the vocalist ranting over the back beat. During “Plain Sight” I can see his veins stressing under his neck skin it is that strong! I want to stomp around the room now and throw things!

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Armagh: Venomous Frost

Armagh - Venemous Frost album cover I know they cover a Bathory tune on this album, but I can’t shake the comparisons, which is a good thing in my view! You can smell the Blood, Fire and Death on this album.

Armagh encapsulate exactly what it was when I first heard this type of music in the mid-80s and got me hooked! The grittiness of Kreator, the rhythmic pummeling of Bathory, the speed of Slayer without compromising song structure as it delivers breaks, lead rips and holocaust whirlwinds. Their bio says they are a young band, but they are very tight and accomplished. And I am enjoying their sound.

I always thought that if I ever have to go ‘over the top; during trench warfare, I want to pump myself up with Manowar’s ‘Battle Hymns’ and Bathory’s ‘Blood Fire Death’. Armargh is now added to that list. And an important list I am sure you’ll agree.

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Tides of Sulfur: Extinction Curse

tides_of_sulfur_extinction_curse_album_cover This sounds epic, and its barely started. There’s something anticipatory about this, I can feel it in my bones…. Pound, after pound, after pound, thrumb of guitar, crashing cymbals this is just the opening salvo. And then it breaks to chugga chugga guitar and smart short drum beats; it is an almighty marriage of sludge and pure three-piece power trio. And I LOVE IT!

This is coming out on Black Bow Records, and they aren’t exactly backwards in coming forward with brutal nihilistic sludge and doom, so it sits very well with their current roster.

Here’s the oddity, their drummer is their vocalist, and this always impresses me as to how they have the lung capacity after beating the skins to then bring forth the vocals! But Tom Lee does a masterful job, it will be interesting to see how it plays out on the live front, and luckily enough I see that they are playing the Hibernation festival on December 3rd 2016 in Camden, London, so I will hopefully trot along and celebrate my birthday with them! No hints, but I’ll be 43 on Dec 2nd.

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Noire: The Tracks of the Hunted

Noire - The Tracks of the Hunted album coverA bold and elegant piano greets us as an opening intro to this self-released EP by Canada’s Noire. And as track two opens, we are next greeted by a bold guitar, prominent and purposeful playing it wanders about and it’s nearly seven odd minutes until we have drums and electric guitar join us.

The meanderings of the earlier solos were pleasant, but I felt a little long-winded as this is only an EP after all. Now we have a traditional band presence we have gruff vocals accompanied by clean technical guitar and snappy drums.

I would imagine that Dream Theater or Opeth fans might dig this, but it’s too clean for my tastes! It is looking to meld black metal sensibilities with acoustic interludes, like many do these days, and Noire have approached from a technical and less organic stance. The title track is riff heavy, but then track four “The Sound of the Void” sounds like a Buddhist prayer bowl being played with its wooden stick, and “There is Nothing Left” is heavy in the acoustic intros again.

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TORCHE Pulse Victims Benefit Shirt: Limited Edition Pre-Order at Shirt Killer

TORCHE Pulse Victims Benefit Shirt from ShirtkillerShirt Killer has teamed up with Florida’s Torche for a special limited edition t-shirt. 100% of the profits will go to Equality Florida’s Pulse Victims Fund.

About the shirt

TORCHE Pulse Victims Benefit Shirt – Six color print on black Canvas brand 100% cotton soft jersey garment.

A limited edition one-time only printing from Florida’s TORCHE, all profits from sales of this shirt will go to Equality Florida’s Pulse Victim Fund.

It will only be available June 15-July 4. Pre-order at shirtkiller.com/torche.

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