Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CastleAxe - Castlemaster

Genre: Heavy/Speed Metal
Country: United States
Year: 2011
Label: Self-Released

Today I bring you one of the best bands from my local area. The outfit known as CastleAxe (after recently changing their name from Speitre) plays a balls-out brand of heavy/speed metal that is sure to get your head flailing and your sword-arm flexing. The twin guitar attack handled by Hölger and Grög forms the foundation of CastleAxe's sound, harkening back to the glory days of speed metal. Dual harmonies and leads abound, there is no mistaking what these guys are all about - real metal, no ifs ands or buts. Drummer Sürt and bassist Prybar provide a nice, solid base, rumbling along in a meat-and-potatoes fashion - no wonky crap going on here. Vocalist Manchester has a unique delivery, and CastleAxe would not quite be CastleAxe without his crazy, out-of-control-in-a-cool-way falsetto at the helm. The Castlemaster EP features four studio tracks and three live tracks, all with a very professional-sounding recording job. This is especially notable on the live songs, which sound absolutely fantastic, having been mixed post-performance. Plus, if you listen closely, you can hear me in the crowd. ;) I do want to make it clear that I am not just plugging these guys because they are friends of mine - I am posting this because I genuinely think it rules. Support!

For fans of Mercyful Fate, Artillery, Whiplash, and Portrait.


*For some reason, Metal Archives rejected the submission for their name change and new EP, so for now you'll have to look CastleAxe up on Metal Archives as "Speitre", their former name.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Argus - Argus

Genre: Heavy/Doom Metal
Country: U.S.A.
Year: 2009
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records

Time for another installment of "I Will Never Have the Words to Describe How Incredible This Music Is". Seriously though, Argus is one of those rare bands who have managed to craft a sound that is both classic and timeless yet very much their own. This has been one of my most-played albums since around its release in 2009, and I still spin it regularly. The music at hand is heavy metal with a doom streak running through its core. The songs are generally at a mid-paced stomp, but occasionally they do wander into monolithic, arcane doom territory. There is a lot of dual-guitar sorcery going on here, and it yields truly spectacular results. The twin-axe brew concocted by Argus' resident string-slinging duo of Jason Mucio and Erik Johnson is a low-gain affair with plenty of crunch to spare, and the approach fits the music perfectly. The twisted, winding licks and bone-crushing riffs never cease to amaze, and every solo is inventive and immaculately performed. The rhythm section is a force to be reckoned with, marching forth with the combined efforts of Andy Ramage's expertly-handled bassery and Kevin Latchaw's genius drumming. The entire affair is topped off by the mighty, ineffable presence of Butch Balich, whose majestic, dire vocals are truly awe-inspiring. Every single word on this album is sung with deep conviction and import. His delivery is simply gigantic; his voice fills the musical space in a way only the very best vocalists can manage. That being said, these guys are the real deal, the full package, the cream of the crop. This is truly incredible music. I could exhaust every superlative in the English language trying to express how much I love this band. Absolutely essential.

For fans of Sinister Realm, Doomsword, Solstice, and Hour of 13.