March 12, 2020

In these strange and disturbing times, the music we love is not only still here to put a smile on our collective faces, but very much coming up with at least A DOZEN of new traditional heavy metal albums until the end of April. Yes, that’s right. I will try and say a few words about some of the forthcoming releases in the genre and here is the first batch of six:

The new album from Elixir is painful to start with. There is always a naïve excitement within me when an old band comes out with yet another release – just because I believe they are still able to live up to the quality of their classic works from the 80s. Well, this is not the case with Voyage Of The Eagle, which came out on March 6th, via Dissonance Productions. The compositions are uninspired, forced to sound authentic, with the riffs and melodies merely a shadow of the power displayed on The Son Of Odin (1986). Sadly, not much can be said for neither of the 10 songs, with all due respect to Elixir, who are in an almost original line-up here. The artwork is good though. (4/10)

Sweden’s own Ambush havechosen Friday the 13thas a suitable date to drop their long awaited third album Infidel (High Roller Records). No surprises here, as these guys know their business and how it is done the RIGHT way. Every single song is an old school hymn, foot tapping with the rhythm, heads shaking, fist clenching – you know what I mean. The Demon Within and Iron Helm Of War probably possess the most immediate riffs, but the whole album is a winner and among the best trad metal albums I’ve heard recently. The cover artwork is also rad. (9/10)

If you have nothing against some classic progressive metal mixed with your heavy, then Australia’s Darker Half will definitely do with their forth album If You Only Knew (Massacre Records, March 23rd). This is great power prog, in the same vein as last year’s Sweet Oblivion project, with tasty guitar leads and solos, really competent vocals and what matters most – great songs. The fact they are chosen to support Geoff Tate on his European Tour (whenever it happens) is just the icing on the cake. (8/10)

Canada’s Freeways are probably the odd one out of the selection reviewed here. Why? Because True Bearings (out April 2nd through Temple Of Mystery Records) definitely leans harder on the 70s influence of Thin Lizzy and UFO, rather than the 80s majesty of Maiden and Priest. There is a subtleness and even a hint of 70s prog in some of the songs, with even the cover artwork contributing heavily to the overall charm of this band. Check them out of you like your rock hard and your metal…. well… old. (7,5/10)

Three years after the excellent Who Mourns For The Morning Star?, NWOBHM veterans Cloven Hoof are, once again, ticking all the boxes Elixir left blank. The Age Of Steel, coming out April 24th through Pure Steel Records, continues in the same olds-school fashion of steely guitar riffs, muscular vocals and a good sense for catchy choruses and drama. Even though the new album is not as strong as the last one, we are still presented with fantastic and memorable epics like Alderley Edge and Touch The Rainbow, which will keep you head banging and years ringing. (7,5/10)

Canadian prodigies Traveler are back with a second full length only a year after the fantastic self-titled debut. Termination Shock will be released once again by Gates Of Hell Records on April 24th and is once again a killer collection of traditional metal, played from the heart, with great hooks, solos and even more speed than in the debut. The eight songs here cut out the Maiden influence a bit, with more harshness and edge in the performances. The guys wanted to approach this second album the way they did with their demos and the result is a bit less immediate and just a little bit less imaginative this time, but still deserving of praise. Shaded Mirror and After The Future are the highlights here. (8/10)