Review – Höwler – Descendants of Evil

Hutch heads to South America for the a blast of the new Höwler Album….

Album number four for Costa Rica’s Höwler, a band about who I’ve no prior knowledge. With their most recent release No More Circus! released in 2020, it’s evident that the band are keen to make up for lost time as they bring their latest release with a pace that at times crosses into speed metal. 

Coming at this blind, it’s an interesting style that Höwler present. There are ample heads down thrash opportunities, but there’s also ample variation. Supernova sees the band channel elements of Testament’s intro to Eerie Inhabitants, whilst the stomp of Anthems to Warfare slips towards power metal before clawing it back into a full-on rager. 

What’s most interesting about this album is that I expected a much more South American feel, and it doesn’t have that. There’s much more European and Germanic feel to the band’s style. Think elements of Destruction and Tankard rather than the dirty experience of Sodom. There are inevitably links to the Bay Area, such as Testament and Exodus. 

All this adds to an album that will be ideal for the thrash fan who wants something solid and established. There’s little new on this release, but they stick to the thrash blueprint, and they do it well. Cycle of Violence draws deep from Testament, but the quintet give it everything from start to finish. New drummer Leyner Mora is particularly impressive on his debut performance. 

So, plenty to get the teeth into with Panzer 666 and In Human Race particularly pleasing with ample thrash teeth. It’s a reliable thrash album that is certainly worth spending three quarters of an hour getting involved with.

Höwler – Descendants of Evil is out today in Europe via CDN records find out more HERE

Gutlocker – SFS Review & Video

Moshin; The Roof On Volume 3 contributors GUTLOCKER release the first ‘official’ new single this Friday. The Groove Metallers from Woking, release their first official single ‘SFS’ taken from the upcoming full length album ‘To Be Alive’. the track is released with the added bonus of being supported by the first of 2 conceptual music videos! 

‘SFS’ is accompanied with a music video that see’s an antagonist, struggling with the monotonous ins and outs of everyday life, they are crippled with anxiety and paranoia. The series of events that happens during the video builds up until the antagonist finally hits the button and pushes back.

The single draws influence from real life struggles. The vocalist Craig McBrearty said “It’s about trying to keep head above water in a corporate world whilst battling your own imposter thoughts.”  

For those that listened to the advanced track Absence Of Change on MTRO v3 will not be surprised how great this new track sounds, from the opening drum beats, this is a thumping slab of metal, taking the lads well beyond the groove metal pigeonhole, Craigs vocals are on point and his snarled blend of hardcore, thrash, skate punk and even a bit Black Metal-ish delivery that make this 4 and a half minute fly by way to fast, the sound is BIG, ear filling and powerful and the whole band have delivered a masterclass of modern metal that we can’t wait to hear in a live setting!

‘To Be Alive’ is Gutlocker’s first full length album and is the first time we have heard anything new from the band since the release of their four track EP ‘Cry Havoc’ in 2018. The band chose to record a full length album during the first lockdown in 2020 as they wanted to use their time to write something that’s different, bigger and better than anything that has been released previously.

‘SFS’ was directed , edited and shot by Jack Maguire of Old Horse Production and premieres Friday night at 7pm UK time.

Vrykolakas – And Vrykolakas Brings Chaos and Destruction

Chris Cleo sinks his fangs into some new death metal from Singapore, here’s what he thinks…

The storms and shadows brew as Singaporean death-metallers ‘Vrykolakas’ unleash their third full-length album ‘And Vrykolakas Brings Chaos and Destruction’.  With an arguable ‘veteran’ status amongst the ranks of death metal acts that is upheld by a career that spans nearly 3 decades from their first 1992 demo, a gap of 10 whole years separates this release with Vrykolakas’ last full length album ‘Unleashing Vrykolakas upon the mankind’.  The band has criss-crossed across the spectrum of death metal, with early releases embracing a raw blackened-death sound and later maturing into a straight brutality-focused old school death metal monolith.  The somewhat original flavour of eastern eschatological lore that Vrykolakas portray so well unites the ever-important third full-length with the rest of the discography, and in this case makes for an enjoyable, replayable behemoth of an album.

Formalities aside – it’s really not uncommon to see extreme metal albums edging near to an hours run time nowadays, and as amazing as epic songs in metal can be, bands with the ‘7-minute+ song fetish’ can write bloated songs that amount to even more bloated albums.  Thankfully this definitely isn’t the case with Vrykolakas.  With an average song length of just under 6 minutes, there are plenty of riffs and different drum patterns to sink your teeth into.  Key sections repeat enough to become memorable and one-off sections appear often enough to keep it interesting, and Vrykolakas balance both aspects perfectly, resulting in an album with listenable songs that have bits that sound new with each spin.

The songs revolve around the standard fast death metal tremolo riffs that dive into half-time chunky rhythms alongside the drums.  Melodically the riffs match the theme of the eastern lore similarly to bands like Nile or Melechesh, but also work in sync with the drum patterns, where the fast beats are played with an almost thrashy edge, allowing the melodic style to work differently here as oppose to the other death metal bands that take the same approach because of this difference in rhythm.  Drum parts follow suit and bounce from upbeat thrashy sections to strictly death metal grooves (think old school Deicide or Suffocation) and are the main creative lick of colour.  For a riff-centric album with only a couple of solos splashed about here and there, the innovation in drum patterns and their synchronisation with the guitar work makes for a new light for these standard trem-riffs to be seen in, and makes them sound fresh without sounding too alien.

Compared to the bands previous works, ‘And Vrykolakas Brings Chaos and Destruction’ shows a definite evolution in musicality and overall sound, with an increase in average track length (albeit not to the point of modern epic death metal) and a cleaner production to help facilitate all the nuances in the drumming.  Against previous Vrykolakas full-length albums, this album makes it apparently clear that the band has more of a classic death metal feel in mind as opposed to the previous albums’ blackened death style.  Granted there has been a 10 year gap between the last LP and this one, various splits, singles and EPs clearly illustrate this growth, with their 2020 EP ‘Into the Shadow of Death’ hinting at this absolute monster of an album.  Vrykolakas show more of their thrashy-death style on this record (GASP… there are no blast beats) and songwriting that focuses on giving each song a clear overall feel which is definitely a positive.

Overall, this attention to musical detail shows nearly 30 years of experience in practice, with a really well functioning album.  It’s not everyday that a band can make 50 minutes not sound like a drag, but can also give you enough meat on each song to make it worth listening to a good few times.  Yes, it’s different from the old, rawer sound that Vrykolakas had once upon a time, but this album is just too good to be tied down by the band’s previous sound.  Fans of this style of metal can really get behind this album and can look forward to the chaos and destruction, because Vrykolakas are really bringing it. 

VRYKOLAKAS – AND VRYKOLAKAS BRINGS CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION was released on July the 1st and is available via BandCamp

Vulture – Dealin’ Death

Hutch reviews the latest Teutonic offering from Vulture…

Contemporary thrash with a deep coating of the old school. That’s the immediate thoughts as the quintet from Dortmund kick start their third album Dealin’ Death, the follow up to 2019’s Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves

The brief intro quickly segues into the ferocious razor-sharp assault of Malicious Souls. It’s fast and furious with vocalist Leo Steeler making an immediate impact with his range, hitting the high levels of Blitz, Eric ‘AK’ and John Cyriis, whilst able to drop several octaves to get to the gravelled tones of Chuck Billy and Mille Petrozza. Count Your Blessings steps briefly towards black metal in parts, although there is a Flotsam & Jetsam vibe circa Doomsday kicking its way out for most of the song. The speed style of Raven, Razor and Exciter also spring to mind. 

It’s hard not to draw comparisons with those bands who paved the way over three decades ago, such is Vulture’s style. They are comfortable with twin guitar harmonies, chanting choruses and a thumping pace which keeps the band powering along. It is both raw and polished, with the band much happier with this record than its predecessor. The structures of the tracks sound simple but underneath it lies a steely determination to keep the thrash vibe running. And they do it with ease. Steeler’s vocals may push a few people away, but that’s an issue for those who cannot cope with the high-pitched singer’s rather schizophrenic style. 

According to former drummer and now guitarist Stefan Castevet, the album was written and recorded with little pressure and a relaxed approach. “For the first time since our debut EP we didn’t feel any pressure at all. The whole song writing process felt very natural from start to finish. There were little to no doubts”. 

It’s virtually all proto-speed and thrash, enhanced with some rich melodies underpinning the tracks and an overall feel which definitively leans towards the US metal movement of the 1980s. it’s frantic and highly charged, with the tempo changes between chugging riff heavy middle sections and the all-out thrash attack of high paced explosive tracks. 

Lyrically Vulture focus on their love of classic horror stories, movies and art. Vulture draw from Edgar Allen Poe’s classic The The Pit And The Pendulum on the title track, Gorgon draws from the Greek mythos Medusa and penultimate blast Multitudes of Terror ventures inside the mind of someone suffering from paranoia. 

At times Dealin’ Death steps of the thrash path but in general it’s a meaty, tasty treat. There are a few ropey tracks, the worst being the final song The Court of Caligula but overall, Vulture are another band from the bubbling German thrash pool that is well worth checking out. 

Vulture – Dealin’ Death is out this Friday via Metal Blade Records

Sacred Reich – Ignorance, Surf Nicaragua, The American Way

Paul Hutchings takes a trip down memory lane with a listen to the first three releases by Sacred Reich

2019 and the first Sacred Reich album in 23 years finally arrived with Awakening. It saw the return of Dave McClain to the drum stool he’s occupied from 1991 to 1997and the arrival of Joey Radziwill on rhythm guitar. The band’s played a smattering of shows through the UK and it was evident that Sacred Reich 2019 was still a relevant thrash beast. Fast forward through 2020 (and why would you linger?) and we arrive in 2021 and three reissues from Metal Blade.

First up is Ignorance, the fiery debut released in 1987. Whilst not as refined as the sophomore album, Ignorance is a stellar debut. Few albums can match the power of the opening double of long-time favourite Death Squad and Victim of Demise. There’s little to quibble about, even 34 years after it was first released. Phil Rind’s vocals were more urgent, and probably a little less controlled than they are today. His bass playing anchors everything and there are some magnificent forays into the land of Steve Harris at times as he moves his instrument into pole position. There’s the clear Megadeth influence on the instrumental Layed to Rest, an opportunity to slow things down whilst allowing guitarists Wiley Arnett and Jason Rainey to show their chops.The title track remains a monstrous song, with drummer Greg Hall nailing everything with ease. I love the build-up which suddenly explodes into a stomping mosh pit classic. At 32 minutes it’s not a long listen. The general intensity of the record is such that it feels even shorter but once Administrative Decision sends you have the option to listen to the 30th anniversary bonus track of Ignorance from the Metal Massacre VIII album or head back to Death Squad to spin it again. 

It took a year from the release of Ignorance for the next Sacred Reich release to arrive but in October 1988 the now legendary Surf Nicaragua arrived. A song that would define how the band were viewed forevermore, there are plenty of reviews that are sour about the musical direction that the band were taking after the explosive debut. And in some respects, this six-track EP is pretty weak. The title track contains a bit of surfing anthem Wipe Outin the middle, and its formulaic, Anthrax style thrash can leave some a bit cold. It’s of a time when thrash was the thing and bands were churning out some average music. One Nation is a classic example, a real filler of a song whilst the cover of War Pigs was nothing to get excited about. Draining You of Life did at least hark back to the raw power of Ignorance. Two live tracks were standard for an EP of this type but it’s still worth a blast from time to time if you have 20 minutes to fill.

“Musically, we’ve tried to expand our horizons without forgetting our roots. Some people will appreciate the changes. Others, let’s just say, they’d be satisfied with ‘Ignorance II'”. So spoke Phil Rind after the release of 1990’s The American Way, the last album to feature Greg Hall. It’s an album that’s nowhere as ferocious as the debut, but the more polished sound still sounds good today. Rind’s lyrics continued to make social commentary, and there is still ample opportunity to get your thrash on. The title track remains a live anthem, the power of opener Love … Hate still ticks the box. Granted it’s not as visceral but the playing is tight, the musicianship a notch or two up from Ignorance and in the central pillars of the album, the six-minute double of Crimes Against Humanity and State of Emergency, there could be no doubt where Rind’s lyrical focus was. The rage of Who’s to Blame reflected the scrutiny the metal world was under following fan suicides, and then there is 31 Flavours. Sacred Reich’s marmite track: a funk rock closer, it still divides opinion but to be honest, it just makes me smile every time I hear it. 

Three records that established Sacred Reich as a much-loved thrash outfit. The excitement when it was revealed that they were writing new material proved it. There’s rarely an excuse needed to play these releases and the reissues, despite being relatively close to previous 30th anniversary editions will give the band deserved attention, hopefully a few dollars in the pocket and new fans to boot.

All three albums are revised by Metal Blade on the 12th February 2021and well worth picking up if you aren’t old enough to own the originals or are just a Sacred Reich completest!

Trial –Sisters of the Moon

Back in 2017 I reviewed Trial’s third album, Motherless for another publication. I was less than complimentary about the Swedes, describing the vocals of Linus Johansson as ‘nails down a blackboard’.

Well, I’m pleased to say that Mr Johansson is no longer singing for Trial, and his replacement Arthur W. Andersson (ex-Air Raid) has a much kinder delivery. So far so good and with this two-track single Andersson makes his recording debut with the band.

It’s a brave and unusual record. Now, what readers of UK Thrashers will think about a Fleetwood Mac cover and a Black Sabbath cover is open to debate. Recorded as everything is these days in lock down, the choices are most interesting. Sisters of the Moonis a well-known song from 1979’s Tusk and Trial certainly give it a good effort. Much harder edged than the Mac original, the biggest challenge is for Andersson to get anywhere near the smoky tones of the fabulous Stevie Nicks. Thankfully, Trial don’t even attempt it, instead hitting a hard rock version that at times echoes their countrymen Ghost. The soaring vocals and blistering guitar solos work effortlessly, the tempo pitched right and overall, it’s a sensitive and solid cover.

Sticking more to the traditional format for the second track, Trial givesa legendary metal track a real good go. Die Youngfrom1980’s Heaven & Hellissuch a massive track that anyone who even considers covering it must have cojones of elephant proportions. Trial stick close to the original, and it’s a decent attempt, with the impossible challenge of filling RJD’s vocal boots provingthe biggest sticking point. Andersson just doesn’t have the vocal dexterity of the former Elfalthough he certainly doesn’t devastate the track by any means. Musically the band are tight, adding their own elements, twists,and tweaks. A brave attempt that truly demonstrates how bloody good Sabbath at that time. This doesn’t fill me with dread about the next release. There are plenty of positives from this record, and Andersson’s performance is promising. It’ll be interesting to see if the next album realises the potential that is displayed here.

Trial – Sisters Of The Moon is released on Metal Blade Records on the 29 January 2021

Series 2 Episode 19 – Reaper

The #ukthrashers radio show is back, in this episode we catch up for a chat with Merseyside Prog Thrashers ‘Reaper’ and talk about their new album ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, live shows, recording during lockdown, M2TM, getting to gigs on National Express and loads more nonsense!

We also have a load of music from –

Belfast Thrash Monsters – Scimitar and ‘Firebourne’

Sunderland Noise Mongers – Yersin and ‘Northern Stronghold’

Interviewed Band – Reaper – and ‘Titan’

Canadian Metalheads Eternal Judgement and ‘Left For Dead’

and Finish the show with the story of Jack The Ripper as told by Dead Before Mourning and ‘The Surgeon In Black’

Solitary new album and label

Our friends in Solitary announce a new album and record label today, we have been fans of the band since the start and they were very generous in allowing us to use a track, ‘The Diseased Heart Of Society’ on our Moshin’ The Roof On compilation.

Congratulations to Rich and the guys on this new chapter in the bands life.. here’s the press release:

Imperative PR are delighted and extremely proud to announce that Solitary have signed a new deal with German label Metalville Records. Metalville Records was founded in 2008 by Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger and former Nuclear BlastA&R man Holger Koch and has gone from strength to strength over the last twelve years – picking up gold and silver discs for their artists, along with Metal Hammeraward nominations and chart placings in Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, the UK and USA. Now established as a major player in the rock and metal market, Metalville is home to internationally successful artists like Ugly Kid JoeLee AaronFoghatDog Eat Dog and many more.

Solitary have repaid the faith of Metalville by delivering a new album that is far and away the strongest of their twenty five year career. The Truth Behind The Lies will not only satisfy the band’s dedicated hardcore following, but capture the hearts of a whole new legion of fans. Along with renowned producer Simon Efemey(AmorphisNapalm DeathParadise Lost etc) Solitary have worked incredibly hard to produce an album packed with absolute thrash classics, with a sound that is second to none. All packaged in some stunning artwork from the legendary Koot(GirlschoolSaxonThe Almighty etc), who also created the cover for Solitary’s limited edition anniversary EP, XXV, this is the perfect way to begin this exciting new chapter in the Solitary story.

Speaking about the new deal Solitary’s frontman Rich Sherrington said:
“Given the current global uncertainty it’s an amazing feeling to be starting the next chapter in the Solitary journey. Securing a record label in the metal stronghold that is Germany is a big enough deal, but then when we factor in the stature of Metalville it’s is a dream come true. UK Thrash is the strongest it’s been since the late eighties it’s great to be putting out a brand new album in the midst of this.”

It’s been a hell of a ride from the pubs and clubs of the north of England to the stage of the Bloodstock Festival, where Solitary triumphed in 2019 and the roster of Metalville Records. Despite all the setbacks along the way Solitary have simply refused to give up. The pledge they made when this band began still holds true…they still promise to thrash forever.

For more information on Solitary click here
Visit Solitary on Facebook
Visit Metalville