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30 June 2023

2023 in Metal (1)

2023 in Metal (1)

2023 is shaping up to be a great year for Metal. With thrash, prog, goth, stoner, shred and power metal all available, theres something for everyone. Road Hounds chooses their fav albums so far.

Sleep Token – Take Me Back To Eden

Anonymous cult outfit offer up third LP and justify the hype. Its an ambitious, emotional monolith of a record, pushing rock to its extremes. On the key track “The Summoning,” the band zip from doomy downtuned metal riffs to choruses with passionate falsetto R&B crooning, then straight to a technical breakdown somewhere between djent and prog metal. The whoel album is epic, sonically diverse, and a potent, masterful statement from one of Metal’s most exciting young bands.

Doomsday Outlaw – Damaged Goods

Heavy, growling and grooving blues-rock from Sheffield. 12 hard rock songs with shiny hooks and huge choruses that guarantee you will sing along. Loudly. The guitar pair are on fire, the drummer is is a beast behind the kit, but in Phil Poole they have a singer who is developing to be one of the best the UK has to offer. Awesome.

Enslaved – Heimdal

Unpredictable Norwegian black metal geniuses go full Prog on stunning 16th album. A rich, multi-layered metal record that commands repeat plays. With angular guitar riffs, gorgeous clean vocals and thundering drums, Heimdal has it all.

Metallica – 72 Seasons

A sprawling but satisfying journey through the many shades of metal Metallica has experimented with. Adventurous lyrics combine with classic “chug mode” to deliver everything you could want from a Metallica album at this point in their career.

The Ocean – Holocene

An atmospheric slice of gothic/industrial rock spearheaded by the divine yearning of Norwegian singer Karin Park. A new direction for the band that has allowed them to expand their horizons. Its less heavy, with long minimalistic sections that have a post-rock feel, while the deep pulsing rhythm ebbs and flows to mesmeric effect.

Fauna Haken

English math rock/progressive metal sextet are at their most diverse on latest album, perhaps due to the return of keyboard player Peter Jones. Apparently every song would has an animal assigned to it (see song titles and cover art) and on stand out track Nightingale the album really takes flight. Fauna is often dazzling in its kaleidoscopic, intricately detailed weave of prog, djent, and metal.

In Times New Roman… Queens of the Stone Age

Desert rockers return with edgy eighth album. Josh Homme’s personal angst results in their angriest and heaviest record in years. The band restores its bluesy, primitive sound with dark, sludgy, brutal twists, while exploring the more experimental corners of their psyche.

Foo Fighters But Here We Are

Dave Grohl pays tribute to Taylor Hawkins and his mother on Foo Fighters’ extraordinary 11th album. A raw, unapologetic act of mourning, it is anguished, searching and triumphant, resulting in the band’s most propulsive and purposeful music of the last two decades. Full of grief, reckoning, and resolve it’s pensive toast to rock’s restorative powers.

Life Is But a Dream…Avenged Sevenfold

Their boldest statement and most revolutionary work to date? Yes. A definitive artistic statement? Yes. A career-defining masterpiece that sets a new benchmark? Yes. Listening to it feels like experiencing a stage play, brimming with highs and lows, at times bonkers, but always brilliant.

Sky Void of Stars Katatonia

“Masters of melancholic metal” Indeed. “Dark-prog – sumptuous sullenness” Also true. Id say hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric with elaborate guitar riffs, mesmerizing lyricism, gloomy ambience with epic sounds and poetic lyrics. Anyway you look at it this is a damn fine album, accessible to the casual listener and rewarding for the expert.

The Old Ways Remain Blood Ceremony

Toronto’s psych noir legends return to their witchy ways on their first album in seven years. The Old Ways Remain is structured and balanced, intensely bewitching and enjoyable. The band effortlessly marry late 60s psychedelia with a robust, stripped back 70s groove while also applying tinges of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. A spell-binding, ritualistic record.

Chaos & Colour Uriah Heep

Energetic and triumphant 25th studio album from British hard rock legends. It bristles with power and joy. It’s committed, passionate and bursting with ideas. Led by founding member (and criminally underrated) Mick Box on guitar, its a superb album of quality hard rock from one of the pioneers of the genre.

Darkfighter Rival Sons

American rock’n’rollers Rival Sons return with renewed focus with a sharper, deeper and more intense album. A tight, eight-song offering that takes a step away from the rootsy and a step towards classic hard rock, sccesfully marrying Led Zep and Black Keys. At eight songs and forty minutes, Darkfighter is a lean hard rock album that condenses what Rival Sons does well into a brief attack.

Land of Sleeper Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

UK quintet has a blast playing old-school stoner metal, balancing the riffs with sharp songwriting. With repeated rhythmic blows and pulsing bass licks, the Newcastle band amplify the volume on their fourth album and keep listeners entrenched in their heady cosmos.

Fearless Crown Lands

Virtuoso and engaging Canadian duo – guitarist/bassist/keys player Kevin Comeau and singer/drummer Cody Bowles – fuse pomp, pop and rock on brilliant 2nd LP. Producer David Bottrill, whose discography includes Tool, Muse, Rush ends up making them sound very much like the latter. I see no harm in that. New Kings of Progressive Metal? Maybe.

III The Winery Dogs

III features ten tracks of power-packed anthems each infused with the band’s unique and exciting blend of hard rock, melodic vocals, and soul. An enthralling blend of hard rock glory, hit-single hooks, and the kind of soulful songwriting.

Six Extreme

Extreme return after 15-year absence with triumphant new album. 12 tracks ranging from funk-tinged bangers to soaring ballads. The album is jam-packed with everything Extreme is known for – riffs, vocals, harmonies, thumping rockers, gorgeous ballads and Nuno shredding the shit out of his Washburn to jaw dropping effect.

The Dio Album Paul Gilbert

An album of Dio’s most celebrated tracks inc, Rainbow and Sabbath with PG replicating the vocal melodies on his guitar I hear you say? Why yes!The musicianship is superb as you’d expect, all performed by Paul Gilbert except for the drums, tackling parts by Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Vivian Campbell, which is what makes the LP really interesting. Gilbert plays with such joy that only the most insular and petulant DIO fans could possibly take exception to it.