OK, for this edition of ‘The Gathering’ let’s keep things simple with a small but diverse selection of new release (and re-release) material that makes use of some traditional heavy metal elements. When used in contemporary works, these beloved old school sounds have the power to induce feelings of nostalgia and transport listeners back to the golden days of heavy metal before the path had been worn and the destination was unknown. Today I find it fascinating when modern metal material incorporates well-known and classic tropes yet manages to maintain a unique identity of it’s own. This is why I felt compelled to dive into this sort-of-subgenre, so strap in and join me on a quick trip back to the future.
Title: Envoy of Death
Label: Old Skull Productions
Released: 14 September 2021 (reissue)
Let’s kick things off with a reissue of a classic heavy metal album from the almighty grandfathers of Finnish metal Sarcofagus. Last month the band’s 1980 album ‘Envoy of Death’ recieved a 12” Vinyl reissue through Nuclear War Now! Productions, a label who also did a cassette release for the same album earlier in the year. The album is a beautiful example of early heavy metal and contains the primitive building blocks of what has now evolved into a vast and diverse extreme music genre. ‘Envoy of Death’ has that lovely fuzzy seventies guitar sound, vibrant solos and jaunty organ but is also laden with dark, evil lyrical references and ominous atmospheres. This album has a valuable position in heavy metal history and I’m pleased to see it getting some renewed attention.
Title: Intermezzo Dei Quattro Coltelli Nudi
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Released: 22 October 2021
Now for an upcoming ultra-contemporary twist on the traditional heavy metal sound. Hexenbrett offer mischievous, occult-riddled trad heavy metal with old school black vibes. “Intermezzo Dei Quattro Coltelli Nudi” will be the second EP release for Austrian act and it’s due out later this month. For this EP the duo decided to have all tracks performed by the live line-up who, due to pandemic lock downs, have been unable to play live events with the band.
The four new tracks will take you on a wild and thrilling ride, with each tossing unpredictable elements at you such as: festive trumpets, classical acoustic guitars, haunting horror-esque synth, and serene chanting back-up vocals. This EP has to be one of the most exhilarating releases that I’ve come across in recent months and I urge you to give it a solid listen.
On October 22nd Dying Victims Productions will be releasing “Intermezzo Dei Quattro Coltelli Nudi” in the following formats: digital, CD, cassette and vinyl (two colours). Get you grubby hands on a copy, you won’t be disappointed.
Band: Mutant Blast
Released: 10 September 2021
Another band who is boldly splicing the sounds of the past with the new is Finland’s Mutant Blast, who have stitched together their own Frankenstein-ish beast with their death ‘n’ roll sound. The recently formed quartet have previously released two singles and now “Detonation” is their debut EP effort. Mutant Blast deliver catchy, thrashy brutality with heavy riffing, epic solos, gruff but clear vox and walls of brash united group vocals. The unity and precision with which the band function is simply spectacular and had me in a play and repeat cycle for almost half a day. “Detonation” recieved a CD release through WormHoleDeath last month so jump on it!
Title: El Camazotz
Released: 18 June 2021
Country: United States
This next one came out just over three months ago but I thought it was still fresh enough to toss into the mix here. “El Camazotz” is the third EP from Connecticut four-piece Entierro. The band has existed in its current form since 2013 and includes guitarist Victor Arduini who has previously lent his talents to Fates Warning.
I’ll admit that it was actually my long-running interest in mesoamerican culture that initially drew me to this release, as within the title I recognised the word Zotz and immediately thought of the Mayan bat god. Further investigation revealed that Camazotz is an alternate spelling or name for this very god. So fuelled by this excitement I had to investigate Entierro’s new release. The five-track EP offers fairly traditional heavy metal and runs for just over twenty-six minutes and includes a cover of Judas Priest’s “Call for the Priest”. There are hints of sludgy stoner rock but for the most part the sound feels timeless and if you were unaware of the release date it may be hard to place on a metal timeline. There’s fun to be had here as there are gorgeous guitar runs, chunky riffs and even some prominent bass which is always appreciated. The title track is a stand out for me with it’s gritty edge and chorus which features the band ferociously screaming in unison “El Camazotz”. Entierro’s new offering staggers the line of old and new in a different way to most. It seems to draw from a traditional sound from just a couple of decades ago rather than conjuring sounds from heavy metals deep past. It fills a gap for me and scratched an itch I didn’t know that I had.
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.