March 18, 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 second batch of six:

Wolf are one of the heroes of the new wave of trad metal. Their eponymous debut from 1999 contributed to the resurgence of the interest in the genre. Feeding The Machine (which is already out by Century Media Records) is the band’s eight studio album, coming out almost 6 years after the previous one. Meanwhile, the whole rhythm section has been changed, with a big name like Pontus Egberg (King Diamond) pulling the fat strings. The vocals of the only remaining founding member Niklas Stålvind are one of the features that really distinguishes Wolf from the… ahem… pack and the other one is the superb blending of Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden influences. Even though this is not their best album, we still have twelve new hymns in 47 minutes, beautiful production and an amazing cover artwork – everything is in place for another very solid album of Swedish heavy metal. (8/10)

Manchester’s own Absolva continue to live up to expectations with fifth album Side By Side (released on April 17th through Rocksector Records). All of the band members are performing live with Blaze Bayley, so they are tested in battle and their gained confidence shows on this album. What we have here are ten new songs of classic metal, which sounds contemporary and fresh. The twin guitar work of brothers Chris and Luke Appleton is the backbone of Absolva, with a lot of hooks and melodies to stay in your head, guaranteeing satisfaction with repeated listens. The two covers of Maiden and Sabbath classics are just a bonus to an already great album. (7,5/10)

In case you don’t know them, Mortician are veterans of the Austrian heavy metal scene, with a cult 3-song EP released in 1987. Fans had to wait for 24 years for a full-length but since their reformation, Mortician is releasing some great music, and their third album Titans (April 17th, Pure Steel Records) is another evidence. Never too complex in structure, keeping it basic, but a tad more speed metal oriented this time, this collection of 9 new songs is exactly what will put smiles on all fans’ faces. This is an album for old school purists and diggers for hidden gems. Get it on vinyl. (7/10)

The fourth album by Lady Beast The Vulture’s Amulet (Reaper Metal Productions) does everything right. This is once again old school to the bone, with the trademark vocals of front-lady Deborah Levine. The riffs in every single song are a revelation of awesomeness. Metal Machine, The Gift, The Champion (EPIC!), Vow Of The Valkyrie – all of these threaten to cause serious damage to your neck. I was headbanging like mad in my car to the start of The Champion (don’t worry – it was while waiting for the green light, haha). These guys (and a girl) really live and breathe metal and know how to sound authentic and create atmosphere. Highly recommended! (9/10)

Blizzen – I love these guys. Their 2015 debut EP Time Machine hit me like a sledgehammer with pure early eighties worship, with a strong Raven and Diamond Head influence. The debut Genesis Reversed solidified the good impressions and after a four-year pause, we now have World In Chains, coming out on April 24th through Pure Steel Records. Rest assured that Blizzen are once again carrying the flag of true metal, with the right dose of speed metal riffing. They are perhaps playing it a bit too safe with this second full length, but if you are craving for memorable fist pumping choruses, energetic tempo and NWOBHM-worshipping guitar riffs, look no further. (7,5/10)

As with the previous part of this trad metal overview, there is an odd one out of the bunch. Dark Forest, from the West Midlands, are bringing us their fifth album of folk-influenced steel. Oak, Ash & Thorn (out April 24th through Cruz Del Sur Music), apart from its amazing cover artwork, is choke-full of amazing melodies and song structures that make Dark Forest easily distinguishable and into a niche of their own. When we say folk-influenced, it’s not Skyclad you have to imagine, but traditional metal, played from the heart, with just the right amount of folklore music influenced guitar melodies. This particular influence is mostly evident in the band’s lyrics. This, along with the latest Elvenking album, are the two best examples of the sub-genre you could possibly hear lately. (8,5/10)