Graham Finney


French hardcore – two words that don’t usually conjur up images of anything particularly inspiring but, a quick visit to the journalists best friend (Google) brings up comparisons to bands like Cancer Bats and Every Time I Die, so maybe the forty minutes spent in the company of this album might not be so bad after all?

While there is no doubt that New York brutalists Suffocation have influenced a hell of a lot of the modern death metal bands doing the rounds these days, there is no ignoring the fact that, twenty five years into their careers, the death metal stalwarts are still way ahead of the pack when it comes to filthy, rancid extremity.

While the accompanying press release would get you preparing for a fairly generic metallic hardcore album, Welsh boys Continents have to get a thumbs up for taking the genre and giving it a right good shake up. Idle Hands effectively takes the blueprint of a genre bursting with a lot of bands who sound fairly similar and throws it right out of the window!

A galloping introduction sets the scene for what is to follow on Ride The Void, the new album from Los Angeles metallers Holy Grail. Following up their critically-acclaimed Crisis In Utopia was always going to be a tough call but, as “Archeus” gives way to the rip-roaring “Bestia Triumphans”, a track which flies out of the starting gate with all guitars wailing and soaring vocals, it’s fair to say that the LA shredders have more than matched their debut.

LA rap-rock troublemakers Hollywood Undead are one of those bands that have a knack for writing songs that you know deep down you should hate but, for some reason, you just don’t. You may not love them like you loved say Master Of Puppets, but you sure as hell can’t get songs like “Pigskin” out of your head.

Quite clearly bonkers, German power metal outfit Sacred Steel have produced one of the most ludicrously brilliant heavy metal albums of the year in The Bloodshed Summoning. In fact, only more ludicrous than the actual album itself was the sight of me driving along at 80 mph pounding my fist along to the unashamed heavy metal of “No God / No Religion”.

The first of a three part series, after a few spins of the Mark Of The Beast: Indoctrination portion of the set, you should have a fairly solid impression as to what is going to follow in the coming months. Offering blackened death/black metal from Texas, Sparrows fair better than most who tread down this path simply by producing an output that doesn’t sound like, not to put too mild a point on it, dog shit.

Hatebreed may have a new home for The Divinity Of Purpose, but as the opening seconds of “Put It To The Torch” smash you in the face it’s crystal clear that little has or will be changing in Camp Hatebreed. Yes, the Connecticut metal heavyweights are back and are bringing with them another slab of brawling “toughcore” metal.

Having spent the best part of their career supporting some of America’s finest purveyors of modern hard rock (Papa Roach, Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry), it comes as no surprise that Filthy Empire is a prime slab of pumping, hard rock full of wailing solos and loud choruses.