Top Ten Metal Albums Of May

I know that saying this every month might make it lose meaning, but it was difficult to make this list. Again.

HOWEVER, that only means that metal is alive and well in 2019! We had tons of excellent prog and power metal albums to grace us this month, as well as some killer classic metal records, too. It was pretty lean on the folk metal side of things; of all the albums I heard, I would say only one or two are really worth listening to.

Carrying on to why you’re here in the first place, take a look at my Top Ten Metal Albums of May below!

As usual, you can find my full reviews of the following albums by clicking the album title in each heading.

10. TIR – Metal Shock

Surfacing from the depths of the underground for the first time in eight years, Italian classic metal legends TIR are releasing their second album, Metal Shock. Even though they formed in the 80s, the band have devoted most of their focus to live shows and building a local reputation rather than producing albums. As a result, they’re held in very high esteem in their hometown of Rome.

For me, classic metal albums are almost always either great or crap; there is no in between. Fortunately, Metal Shock instantly takes a stand among the former, with its dual guitars and colorful drumming building a solid foundation as soon as they come in. On top of that, the raspy vocals kick ass and the bass lines are clear in the mix. Using the premium fuel that the band produces, each song is energetic, catchy, and has a high degree of headbangability behind it.

TIR – Lasciateci Fare (Gates of Hell)

9. Grimgotts – Dragons of the Ages

Grimgott’s second album to date, Dragons of the Ages is by no means a genre-shattering album. Its sound is what I like to describe as “adventure metal”, because it’s an epic, nautical-themed symphonic power metal album. While it follows most of the power metal tropes fairly closely, the band have managed to make something original, super fun, and immensely uplifting. Fans of Power Quest, Twilight Force, Alestorm, and Galderia will love this album.

Grimgotts – Ancient Waters

8. Until Rain – Season V

Until Rain is a fairly seasoned (ha ha, get it?) prog band at this point, so it should come as no surprise that their fifth effort, Season V, has made it onto this list. However, with their sound totally flipped this time around, it’s worth giving even more special attention to.

Compared to their former albums, Until Rain have dialed back their heavy energy a bit and substituted much of it for a more technical, emotional, almost laid back style of prog. There are plenty of intricacies to enjoy, with the patter-drumming being my favourite, so make sure you go give this one a serious listen!

I never got around to writing a review for this one, but check out the review from my friends over at The Metal Observer here!

Until Rain – Patti (Rock of Angels)

7. Pythia – The Solace of Ancient Earth

The Solace of Ancient Earth is the first album I’ve ever heard from Pythia. And, to be honest, I didn’t expect much from it. It’s not often that an independent female-fronted symphonic metal band has anything new to offer, but Pythia is something special. Within The Solace of Ancient Earth we encounter a powerful female lead, superb orchestrations, an excellent rhythm section, and emotional, inspired power metal.

Pythia – Spirits of the Trees

6. Power Tale – The Fiery God of Marrans

There were a few huge metal opera releases this month, but none came close to the quality and impact that the Ukrainian Power Tale’s latest record delivered. This massive double-album is power metal in the vein of Eastern European power metal, being more accurately described as heavy/power metal.

The most impressive aspects of The Fiery God of Marrans are the numerous guest vocalists, who each contribute an excellent performance, and the killer guitar solos. This album has plenty to offer in it’s ninety-plus minutes, so make sure to set some time aside for it!

Power Tale – The Anger of the Marrans

5. Step in Fluid – Back in Business

Bouncing in with the funkiest fucking metal album I’ve heard in months is Step in Fluid with their latest effort, Back in Business. As the title suggests, it’s been a little while since the band have released any new material (nearly eight years, in fact). Which, let me tell you, is an incredible disservice to both fans and to them, because they are very good at the whole music-making thing. It’s a bit disappointing that the runtime on this album is so short, but the half hour we do get is excellent.

Within the album are both serious metal grooves, laid back funky grooves, and lighter synth-backing grooves. If, like me, you’re a fan of jazz and metal, this booty-shaking prog/fusion fiasco is for you.

Step in Fluid – Booty Shake (Klonoshpere)

4. Arch / Matheos – Winter Ethereal

Former and present Fates Warning members John Arch and Jim Matheos are back with their second partnered album, Winter Ethereal. It in no way sounds like a Fates Warning knockoff, instead taking a stand as one of the best prog albums of the year so far. It hits hard and heavy but contains surprisingly fluid arrangements, which makes for quite the dynamic listen. This is matured, no-frills progressive metal.

Arch / Matheos – Straight and Narrow (Metal Blade)

3. Myrath – Shehili

Shehili kicks more ass than the Sahara on a windy day. This should really come as no surprise, though, because Myrath’s albums routinely contain nothing but quality, emotion, and a tasty Arabic spice. Huge melodies continuously take the stage and are supported by a dangerously tight rhythm section. The strings and orchestrations carry epic and mysterious melodies, combining seamlessly with the coarser metal elements to make each song ring with brilliance. On top of that, the mixing is clean, balanced, and allows each of the many parts to be appreciated.

This Tunisian troupe commands a staggering amount of skill, but perhaps the most impressive is frontman Zaher Zorgati and his ludicrously proficient vocals (which can go from soaring ululatuon to a powerful belt on the drop of a dime). Pump this energy into lively arrangements, and you get a vivid, dance-inducing Eastern brand of power metal.

Myrath – No Holding Back (earMUSIC)

2. Amulet – The Inevitable War

Blasting forth with a fresh lineup, Amulet’s sophomore record is an exceptional work of classic metal. The Inevitable War takes the band to new heights and offers what is sure to be a contender for the best classic metal album of the year.

There’s really nothing to dislike. The mixing is flawless, the band is exceptionally talented, and the music simply bleeds energy. Each anthemic chorus hits with a similar impact as classic Manowar, and the galloping rhythm section chugs away with the likeness of Iron Maiden. Get your fix of the classics with this very new release.

Amulet – Burning Hammer (Dissonance)

1. Gloryhammer – Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex

Epic, cheesy, heroic. These are words I often use when describing my favourite albums, but make no mistake; I only use these words if I mean it. So, if I were to say that Gloryhammer’s third and latest album, Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex, was one of the most ridiculously epic tales of heroism that I’ve heard from a power metal, you can be damn sure it’s true.

Between the powerful cries of Angus McFife and the cosmic colours created by the rest of band, there’s no room to criticize the skill of these galactic warriors. Additionally, while the core sound is true, pure power metal, the songwriting is pleasingly dynamic. So, bust out your most enchanted headphones and get a load of this ultra-melodic cheesefest and see for yourself why this just might be the greatest power metal album of the year (or of all fucking time).

Gloryhammer – Hootsforce (Napalm)

Did your favourite May albums make the list? Leave a comment or send a message if you think revisions are in order!

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Lagerstein Announce New Album For August

Metal pirates Lagerstein, hailing from the land down under, have made an exciting announcement today! Their third album, entitled 25/7, has been confirmed for 23 August. The album will feature twelve party-packed tracks of all the booze-filled antics you expect to hear from pirate metal.

Along with the album announcement, the band have also announced a massive sixty-show tour in Europe, with dates as follows:

31/05 DE – Dark Troll Festival
14/06 AU – Vienna 
15/06 DE – Skaldenfest
21/06 DE – Mise Open Air 
22/06 DE – Aaargh Festival 
23/06 IT – Alpen Flair Festival 
05/07 HU – Nordic Metal Night VI 
19/07 RO – Iasi
21/07 RO – Celtic Transilvania Festival
26/07 FR – Paris
27/07 FR – Lille
02/08 DE – Wacken Open Air
10/08 CH – Metal Scar Rock Party 
16/08 SE – Sabaton Open Air
21/08 SE – Stockholm
22/08 SE – Stockholm 
23/08 NO – Oslo 
28/08 DE – Munich 
29/08 PL – Bielsko Biala
30/08 PL – Warsaw
31/08 CZ – Prague
01/09 CZ – Prague (Acoustic) 
02/09 CZ – Ostrava 
03/09 SK – Banska Bystrica
04/09 AT – Vienna
05/09 DE – Bamberg
06/09 DE – Erfurt
07/09 CZ – Brno
08/09 CZ – Usti Nad Labem
08/09 CZ Teplice
09/09 HU – Budapest
10/09 PL – Krakow
11/09 SK – Bratislava
12/09 DE – Oberhausen
13/09 DE – Berlin
14/09 DE – Hamburg
15/09 BE – Ghent
17/09 UK – London 
18/09 UK – Bristol
19/09 UK – Cardiff
20/09 UK – Manchester 
21/09 UK – Glasgow
22/09 UK – Newcastle
23/09 UK – Sheffield
24/09 UK – Swansea
25/09 UK – Reading
26/09 UK – Plymouth
27/09 UK – Bridgewater
28/09 UK – Nottingham
29/09 UK – Birmingham

Lagerstein first set sail in 2010 and have since pillaged the metal scene with two full-length albums. Having released their first two albums independently, they’ve founded their own record label, Kegstand Records, for the release of 25/7.

Make sure to go and follow their Facebook page to see when more album details arrive!

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Constantine – Aftermath Review

Score6/10
GenreVarious/Shred
CountryGreece
Runtime33:18
Release Date31 May 2019
Record LabelRockshots

If ever there was an album that I was full-out wrong about what to expect, it’d be Aftermath. The second solo album from Greek guitarist Constantine Kotzamanis, it initially appeared as though it was going to be another instrumental shred album, due to the first single, ‘Bushido’. Shortly after I heard it, though, I learned that it was actually going to be a feature album with various guest vocalists. That was no issue for me, though, because I knew that Constantine is more than just an excellent guitarist. I figured he’d write a cool, energetic album with tasteful guitar parts and everything would fall into place.

And that’s where I was wrong. Rather than a proggy metal album with sick grooves and powerful melodies at the forefront, we got a borderline alt-metal album that’s, in all honesty, pretty generic and straightforward. Despite working with the likes of ex-Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, and Soilworks Bjorn Strid, Aftermath ends up being underwhelming and disappointing.

Aside from the phenomenal opener, ‘Bushido’, the guitars (and rhythm parts, for that matter) are actually quite tame. There are some fantastic solos, like the ones in ‘Hellfire Club’ and ‘Another Day’, and the band’s performances are okay, but there nothing that steals the show. The tracks are simplex and don’t have a whole lot of meat on them, and a couple were actually sappy to the point of annoying me.

Having been a fan of Constantine for some time, I feel as though he’s cheated himself in this one; by no means do I think he’s incapable of playing anything other than instrumentals, but I think the route he went with this album doesn’t complement his strengths in the slightest. Aftermath lacks the memorability, technical skill, and passion that Constantine displayed so easily in his debut.

Constantine – Press on Regardless (Rockshots)

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NorthTale Sign Onto Nuclear Blast

International power metal supergroup was formed in 2018 when guitarist Bill Hudson (ex-U.D.O., ex-Power Quest) and vocalist Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force) got together and decided to start a band with the goal of bringing the glory of late-90s power metal back to the scene.

They recently signed a record deal with Nuclear Blast, and have also announced their debut album, Welcome to Paradise, which is set to release on 2 August.

01. Welcome To Paradise
02. Higher
03. Follow Me
04. The Rhythm of Life
05. Time To Rise
06. Way Of The Light (Bonus Track)
07. Shape Your Reality
08. Everyone’s A Star
09. Siren’s Fall
10. Bring Down The Mountain
11. Playing With Fire
12. If Angels Are Real
13. Even When

The band also consists of Mikael Planefeldt on bass, Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End) on keys, and ex-Yngwie Malmsteen drummer Patrick Johansson. To get a feel for the upcoming album, check out NorthTale’s demo below!

NorthTale – Shape Your Reality

Keep up with NorthTale by following their Facebook Page!

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Gloryhammer – Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terrorvortex Review

Score10/10
GenrePower Metal
CountryScotland
Runtime49:33
Release Date31 May 2019
Record LabelNapalm

Returning once more to finish off the greatest threat that the universe has ever known, the mighty cosmic warriors Gloryhammer are back with what could easily be called the best fucking power metal album of all time. Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex has everything that you could desire in a power metal record, and then some. This, in all sincerity, is a work of cosmic proportions.

Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex (that just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) continues the chronicles of Angus McFife that began with 2013’s Tales from the Kingdom of Fife. As such, you can safely expect some of the cheesiest, bullshit fantasy lyrics you’ve ever heard, complete with fictitious Latin. Furthermore, you can even expect to get invested in the story, and maybe even end up feeling something if, gods forbid, a tragic turn were to happen along the way.

But, a story like this gets nowhere if the surrounding music isn’t as pumped-up and fantastical as its content. Never fear, though, because there’s enough cheese in this album to give you severe indigestion until the next ridiculous power metal gem surfaces (which, in case you didn’t get that, is the perfect amount). Aside from the crispy-clear mixing, powerful melodies, and dynamic songs, the musicianship is flawless.

The synths, while not overblown, are ever-present in the background and also carry some seriously bumpin’ melodies, not the least of which is found in ‘Hootsforce’. There’s crunchy, hard riffage throughout the album’s entirety and the heroic pipes of Angus McFife break the air like a supersonic death beam. The earth-shaking drums and bass bring the whole group together into a formidably fearsome fighting force.

While every track on this album is simply excellent, I do find a favourite in the final track, ‘The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny’. Following in like fashion with Gloryhammer’s other two albums, this lengthy epic concludes the album with a stellar supernova, delivering despair, hope, victory, and tragedy all within its twelve minutes before finishing off with a mysterious and foreboding transmission.

It should be pretty clear by now that this album kicks all evil space ass. There hasn’t been a true power metal album that has made this much of an impact on me in too long a time and it’s likely it’ll be another while until the genre spits out something like this again. Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex not only satiates my incessant thirst for epic and energetic metal, but asserts itself to fans of the genre as a pure, perfect album.

Gloryhammer – The Siege of Dunkeld (Napalm)

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Step In Fluid – Back In Business Review

Score8.5/10
GenreProgressive Metal/Fusion (Funk Metal)
CountryFrance
Runtime30:18
Release Date17 May 2019
Record Label Klonosphère

Bouncing in with the funkiest fucking metal album I’ve heard in months is Step in Fluid with their latest effort, Back in Business. As the title suggests, it’s been a little while since the band have released any new material (nearly eight years, in fact). Which, let me tell you, is an incredible disservice to both fans and to them, because they are very good at the whole music-making thing. It’s a bit disappointing that the runtime on this album is so short, but the half hour we do get is so good that it’s a nonissue.

I’ve always thought that prog and fusion go hand-in-hand. When you look at what goes into either genre, you get two lists that look nearly identical: experimentation, improvisation, intricate songwriting, incredible technical proficiency, a whole bunch of shit thrown together in hopes that it works. The biggest differences between the two are the moods and that one utilizes metal instruments while the other uses jazz instruments. What we get when Step in Fluid steps in are plenty of bouncy grooves played by some of the meanest synth tones known to man, a pounding rhythm section, and a crunchy guitar to top it all off. It’s a funk album played by a metal band.

Or maybe not. The way that the bass, keys, and guitar move around the grooves is done with such proficiency that you can only really see them as jazz musicians. There are some exceptionally beefy basslines in ‘Streets of San Francisco’ and the guitar riffs and chunky keyboards make for some really great progressions. And don’t even get me started on these juicy fucking solos, because, whether it’s the guitar or the keys, they’re simply phenomenal.

The one instrument that could use a tweak or two would be the drums. Don’t get me wrong; the drumming on this album is fantastic. But, as it goes with metal, the drums are way too stiff with their grooves. The reason that jazz and funk drummers will almost always be a bit better than metal drummers is that they can float around within a verse very naturally without upsetting the grove, whereas metal drummers tend to get more locked in. It’s not like I think that the band’s drummer, Florent Marcadet, isn’t capable of playing like this, because there are moments when he hits some seriously impressive grooves and his fills are super jazzy, he just doesn’t. That all being said, his shots are sharp and he is undoubtedly an excellent drummer.

Back in Business is short but has plenty of sweet to offer. There are some booty-shaking tunes (like the opener, ‘Booty Shake’), laid back tracks, slow-goers, and a constant feel-good energy that’s present throughout the album’s entirety. The songs are mostly built around a single progression or groove, as is standard in funk, but the band does more than enough with each one. A fun album like this should be enjoyed by all.

Step in Fluid – Booty Shake (Klonoshpere)

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Valis Ablaze Release New Single

With their sophomore album less than two months away, prog outfit Valis Ablaze have released a new single.

Valis Ablaze – Hollow Heart (Long Branch)

‘Hollow Heart’ is taken from the upcoming album Render, which is set to release on 19 July. Valis Ablaze state that Render will please fans of their previous work as well as appeal to those interested in a more modern, alternative sound.

If catchy grooves, intricate rhythms, and soaring vocals are what you seek, keep your eye out for this album to drop.

01. Neon Dreaming
02. Hollow Heart
03. The Convincer
04. Keyframes
05. Ascent feat Sam Bell
06. Saturation
07. Proxy
08. States Of Decay
09. Infinite World
10. Elevation feat White Dove

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Twilight Force Announce New Album

Majestic power metallers Twilight Force have made the announcement of their third album, called Dawn of the Dragonstar. The album is set to release on 16 August.

This will be Twilight Force’s first album to feature their new vocalist, Alessandro Conti (as Allyon), who joined the band in 2018 after Christian Eriksson‘s departure.

No other details regarding the albums have been released yet, but the band have revealed some of their upcoming festival dates, which include performances at the Masters of Rock, Summer Breeze, and Full Metal Holiday festivals.

Go follow Twilight Force on Facebook so you can see the first super-cheesy single that’s sure to surface soon!

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Power Tale – The Fiery God Of Marrans Review

Score8.5/10
GenreHeavy/Power Metal (Metal Opera)
CountryUkraine
RuntimeSide A – 1:00:38 / Side B – 37:02
Release Date20 May 2019
Record LabelSoundAge Productions

Ukrainian metallers Power Tale are back with a massive double album, and only a year after their last work. Featuring nineteen songs and clocking in at over an hour and a half, The Fiery God of Marrans is pretty long, so you might want to throw this one on while you’re driving or something, just so you don’t get bored trying to get through the whole thing at once. There’s nothing boring about it, but, still, it’s lengthy.

This big, beefy metal opera tells what I’m sure is an exciting story (sorry, I don’t speak Russian all that well). Assisting with this storytelling are almost a dozen vocalists (as well as an assload of session musicians) who are each featured for a song or two, not the least of which are a few female vocalists. There are tons of chanting, anthemic choruses, which, with so many vocalists to pull from, makes it really easy to kick it into overdrive and deliver an epic impact. The vocal performances are all really good, as is the rest of the band, so it’s safe to say that the album’s foundation is very sturdy.

Like many other Eastern European power metal bands, Power Tale’s brand is a bit too heavy and dark to be explicitly considered power metal. We don’t even get a taste of true power metal until the second song of the second disc, ‘Pridyot Chas’. Needless to say, I’d describe it as more of a heavy/power metal in the vein of Arteriya, Stormhammer, and (to a lesser extent) Iron Fire. The guitar tones are just fucking colossal, the bass is all juiced up, and there’s not much in the way of upbeat or uplifting feel-good tracks.

My favourite part of this album is undoubtedly the guitar soloing. If I had to pick favourites, I’d say it’s a toss up between the ones in ‘Мир на весах’ and the thirteen-minute ‘Сталь и кровь’. Aside from the insane shredding and wailing ballad solos, some cool fx are used and there’s sparing use of dual guitars, so, if you’re like me and enjoy solo variety, you’ll love these.

For such a long album, I don’t have too much more to say about it. There’s nothing bad on this album; the solos and drums are excellent and the songwriting is very well done. The Fiery God of Marrans is a solid effort with powerful highs, heartfelt lows, and a massive delivery to match the hefty runtime.

Power Tale – The Anger of the Marrans

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Symphony Of Tragedy Announce New EP

Symphony of Tragedy, a lesser-known power metal outfit from Sweden, announced yesterday that a new EP is on the way. Besides the title, Rise Again, no details have been released.

Symphony of Tragedy began in 2015 with the aim of producing power metal in its truest form. Since their founding, the band have released one EP, entitled Heroes of the War.

Stay tuned for more updates from Symphony of Tragedy!
Follow them on Facebook.

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