Sunday, November 27, 2022

New Release Fatigue

We live in a great era for music. At the touch of a few keystrokes, the Internet opens up myriads of options to listen and acquire music. Whether you’re into physical formats like vinyl and CDs, or prefer to stream your tunes via Spotify and Apple Music, or if like me, you prefer to download your music as MP3 files through Bandcamp and iTunes, there’s something for everyone. That being said, there’s also more music than ever before being offered to us. It’s a double-edged sword for bands and artists: on one hand their music is easily accessible, but on the other hand, their EP or LP can easily get lost in the sea of releases. Trying to sift through the staggering amount of weekly releases can become a bit tiring these days. It’s what’s commonly known as “new release fatigue” and I’ve got a pretty bad case of it. On Metal Twitter, my place of choice to hang out to discuss and discover music, folks seem to love acquiring stacks of new music, whatever the format may be, every week. I think I’m in the minority who feels that it’s just too much music over time and I’d rather have less.

Let me explain. I’ve been running this blog for a little over two years now and it’s made me discover some of my favourite bands of recent years. I’ve interacted with many purveyors of music and it’s always a lot of fun. It also comes with some perks of having access to a lot of free music before it’s released to the general public and that too, is a ton of fun. I receive lots of review submissions on a monthly basis, so that as well is a source of new music. The thing is, I feel like I’ve been spreading myself thin more and more as the months went by this year. How can you fully appreciate an album if you constantly consume new records, one after the other, akin to chain smoking? I see some people’s posts on Twitter, for instance, and I can’t wrap my head around the idea of picking up anywhere between five to a dozen new albums every week! Honestly, how many times will they actually spin this “new” record over the next few months? Not only that, but financially, that’s got to add up at the end of the year. I’ve made it a point to diminish my intake of new music in the last couple of months and will continue to do so in the future. Whether it be for reviewing purposes or for my personal pleasure, I just don’t have the time nor the money to support all the good bands out there. I’m a minimalist, so while I seldom buy physical albums (an average of two or three CDs a year at the most), I practice minimalism digitally as well. I tend to only keep albums that I absolutely love otherwise I’ll just hold on to one or two songs from it and make compilations with strictly the cream of the crop.

Remember the days when we were young and buying tapes or CDs was a special thing and you had to save up your allowance/minimum wage job/part-time job to afford buying that precious album from a band you really got into? That’s what I miss. Back when I could tell you the song titles of any of my albums, where I would know my favourite songs by heart and every album had a special meaning to me. Nowadays, it all seems to get lost somehow. Too much of a good thing, as they say. I wanna go back to consuming less new music and appreciating and listening to the albums I do own/buy/receive more so that they can become those gems that I cherish over time. As usual, I’m probably in the minority and this is most likely the unpopular opinion, but I’ve noticed in the past two months that I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my “new” albums a lot more when I don’t try to sample a lot of the stuff that’s available at the salad bar. Going forward, I’ll be writing much less musings columns, but what I’ll talk about will be albums that have left their mark on me, the special kind of records that you wanna listen to for a lifetime and take with you wherever you go. I’ll continue to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming bands and do my best to support new talent, but I’ll focus on a smaller sample. Less is more. Quality over quantity. How do you feel about the weekly onslaught of music being offered through the various platforms? I’d love to hear/read your thoughts here in the comments section or at my Twitter account. 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

A Conversation with ExpiatoriA

Time for another conversation with a band. Today we travel to Genoa, Italy to chat with ExpiatoriA, a 6-piece doom metal band. I recently reviewed their debut LP, Shadows, which came out on November 4th.

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: Congratulations on the new record! It seems to have been quite the journey to make it to Shadows. The obvious question is why did it take 35 years to release your first LP?

ExpiatoriA: This is a long story full of twists. If I told you in detail, two days in a row would not be enough. In summary I can say that between the second half of the ‘90s and the first decade of the 2000s there was a forced stop due to the exit of the first historic singer Massimo Cottica (who moved to Ireland) and the consequent difficulty in finding a worthy replacement. Once back on the scene, ExpiatoriA were held back by excessive stalling and getting lost in a thousand discussions even for the most trivial decisions by some members of the band. Now that these people have been removed, ExpiatoriA has surrounded itself with proactive, open-minded musicians, on the same wavelength as to the sound direction to take, and really involved in the project. The rest came very naturally.

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: The album is clearly rooted in old school doom and metal, but features only new compositions. Was there a temptation to record old songs that had never been released before, maybe update them a bit? Why did you decide to go entirely for brand-new songs?

ExpiatoriA: Since the first moment in which the band regrouped in the current lineup, the decision was made to restore the original intent that moved the first steps of ExpiatoriA. Over the years the sound has taken on a very thrash-oriented vein, albeit tinged with darkness; so the decision to abjure all the old compositions and churn out new material much more in tune with the doom and dark metal direction came quite spontaneously (and also logically) for us.

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: The band has gone through many different lineups over the years. What brought this current lineup together? Did you know all know each other before? It feels like a strong lineup composed of musicians taken from well-known bands joining forces.

ExpiatoriA: We have all been friends for a long time and the esteem for each other, as musicians, has always been high. It was very natural to join forces to give ExpiatoriA the status they have always deserved.

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: Being part of a six-piece band can’t always be easy, it’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. How do you approach song writing/writing music? Does everyone have a say in which direction to take with a particular song?

ExpiatoriA: Generally, the main ideas for composing new songs come from the two guitarists Massimo Malachina and Edoardo Napoli, then during the arrangement each of us has the right to intervene in the improvement of the original raw material. Among us there are no cravings for protagonism that no one is offended if their idea is rejected by the majority. The lyrics are an exclusive prerogative of myself (David Krieg, vocals).

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: What are your touring plans? Do you plan to perform shows outside of Europe?

ExpiatoriA: First of all, we are making contacts and forging many alliances with promoters and bands from other regions of our country to plan a series of dates around Italy. We already have some possible requests for some European dates. We want to grow and spread our music and our show slowly but steadily: we don't want to overdo it but we don't want to sit on our laurels either.

Harbinger of D.O.O.M.: Thank you for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to say to your listeners/future fans?

ExpiatoriA: Thanks to Harbinger of D.O.O.M. for this interview. Let me just say: join our Sabbath wherever we may be playing and enjoy our music as you descend into darkness with us.

ExpiatoriA’s Official Website

ExpiatoriA on Bandcamp

ExpiatoriA on Facebook

ExpiatoriA on Instagram

ExpiatoriA on YouTube 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Musings: Running Maiden - Running Maiden

Running Maiden is a female-fronted three-piece heavy metal band from Switzerland. Their self-titled EP was released as a surprise earlier this week, but the cassette tape version will be out on January 27th, 2023 via the ever-growing and excellent metal label Dying Victims Productions.

I am thrilled about this EP! If old school ‘80s metal and NWOBHM is your thing, this album will hit the spot and then some. Featuring Alexa on vocals and bass, Manuel on drums, and Ramon on guitars, Running Maiden sings about legends of old and the occult. With a sound that fits right between Iron Maiden (the band’s name is a dead giveaway, I know) and early ‘80s Belgian speed metal band Acid (check them out if you’re not familiar with that band, they’re fantastic), they deliver four breathtaking anthems that’ll have you convinced this is a long-lost metal gem from the ‘80s. “Bazaar of Evil” gets the ball rolling with its guitar assault and bass & drum revolt. Raise your fist and shout! It’s followed by the title track, “Running Maiden”, a bass-driven tune with a fiery guitar solo. The penultimate track is the infectious “Vengeance (It’s What They Deserve)”, which happens to be my favourite of the lot. It’s got a great sing-along chorus and channels both Maiden and Acid with stunning results. The pace slows down just a bit to culminate with “Set Me Free”, but make no mistake, this is another killer track ending with a superb guitar solo.

Running Maiden is one of the most exciting bands to come out of Dying Victims Productions’ stable this year and that’s saying a lot since they’ve put out many of 2022’s best metal albums. This 4-track EP is phenomenal from top to bottom and I just can’t stop listening to it! This NWOTHM renaissance that’s going on as of late is exhilarating and we are all lucky that Running Maiden is here to take part and maybe even take over. Their self-titled debut comes highly recommended from your friendly Harbinger of D.O.O.M.

Dying Victims Productions’ Bandcamp page for Running Maiden: 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Musings: DoctoR DooM - A Shadow Called Danger

DoctoR DooM returns after seven years of being away! The French quartet will release their much-anticipated follow-up to 2015’s This Seed We Have Sown on vinyl through Black Farm Records on November 18th and on CD and digital via Ripple Music on January 20th, 2023. The new LP is titled A Shadow Called Danger and it’s every bit as groovy and retro as their first outing.

For the uninitiated, DoctoR DooM isn’t a doom metal band; they’re more of a ‘70s hard rock, prog & blues with a touch of proto-metal kind of band. It makes for a unique blend of music. The LP opens with “Come Back to Yourself” which at first made me feel like it would be a perfect fit as a song on the Kill Bill soundtracks. DoctoR DooM’s guitar chugging is catchy and reminiscent of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s Heart at times. “What They Are Trying to Sell” was the first single that came out at the end of 2021 and I’ve heard it so many times that it’s already a classic song for me. I might be biased due to my familiarity with it, but it’s my favourite track of the album, with its proto-doom elements and throbbing bassline. “Ride On” is a terrific easy-going tune followed by “Connected by the Worst” which has riffs-a-plenty and is a delicious slice of classic rock with lengthy instrumental sections. “Hollow” is a cool rocker that’s deeply rooted in ‘70s rock. “The Rich and the Poor” is a beauty of a song with splendid guitar playing and a solid rhythm section to give us great rock ‘n’ roll. “In This Town” is the second single, some proto and some prog with some help from an organ to deliver a majestic 7-plus minute track that is mostly instrumental and a highlight of the record. We then move on to a beautiful, slower-paced instrumental titled “Sarabande” to take us out.

No such thing as the sophomore slump for DoctoR DooM, folks. This is an album that goes down easy like a cold beer on a hot summer day. Overall, A Shadow Called Danger is a laid-back album, very much in the vein of its gorgeous cover art: calm with a hint of danger always lurking on the horizon. Fans of Witchcraft and Graveyard will particularly appreciate this record.

DoctoR DooM on Bandcamp:

DoctoR DooM on Vinyl via Black Farm Records:

DoctoR DooM on CD and Digital via Ripple Music: 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Musings: Eye of Doom – The Sapient

I love it when a great Canadian band releases an album that’s right up my alley. Such is the case with Vancouver’s Eye of Doom and their newly released The Sapient. Why aren’t there more space doom records like this one? The Sapient is a concept album in the same vein as the trio’s outstanding 2020 EP, Curse of the Pharaoh. Buckle up, this is gonna be one hell of a trip!

This is an album where the cover art is a precise depiction of what awaits the listener inside. And what gorgeous art it is! Evocative of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a lone cosmonaut stands before a monolith as cold, ominous outer space surrounds him. The structure of The Sapient reminded me of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here; that album is bookended by “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part I-V)” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part VI-IX)” with three songs sandwiched in the middle. Aside from the 2-minute intro, The Sapient follows the same configuration, with “Eye of Doom Part I” and “Eye of Doom Part II” bookending the three songs in the middle. After the sounds of space turmoil that is the intro of “224.7”, we are treated to the crushing doom of “Eye of Doom Part I”. This song is epic in all meanings of the word. Thick and heavy, largely instrumental with a guitar solo from the depths of the cosmos, this is space doom at its best. “Dead Void” follows and it may well be the doomiest track of the record with despair-filled lyrics and ethereal vocals. “Return to Descension” has an aura of malevolence, melodic killer guitars, stellar intergalactic bass, intricate lyrics, and is heavier than a mammoth. It’s my personal favourite on an album of favourites. The title track, “The Sapient”, starts off slow, hypnotic, then bursts like a supernova. It has a certain otherworldly, meditative vibe. Close your eyes and let yourself drift away. The cosmonaut’s journey comes to an end with “Eye of Doom Part II”, a powerful, psychedelic, proggy delight that sounds quite dissimilar to Part I.

Wow. This album will blow your mind. You’ll need to catch your breath after listening to it. And it gets exponentially better on subsequent spins. One of the top three doom albums of 2022 and an absolute must for year-end best albums lists. The Sapient’s lengthier tracks never wear out their welcome; every riff, lick, and solo fits perfectly within the grand design of the record. It’s got Sabbath worship for fans of old school doom and sounds innovative with its diversity of spacey prog doom. Spellbinding vocals, merciless guitars, a pulsating rhythm section, complex lyrics: everything here is done to perfection. Eye of Doom are bound to reach the stars with this masterful album. Pick up The Sapient as soon as you can!

Eye of Doom on Bandcamp: 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Musings: Kajgūn – FZ22

Kajgūn is a psychedelic jazz metal band that plays improvised music. I reviewed their debut album Daogoad back in January and they return with a live album, FZ22, featuring five brand new compositions. The quartet plays each piece of music only once, so what you get here is a set of fusion jazz metal instrumentals performed at the Fekete Zaj Festival in August of 2022 that have never been heard before or since.

Once again, the track titles aren’t real words (to my knowledge, anyway), but serve to identify the compositions that are played. The production value of this concert is top notch and the band shows once again that they are highly skilled musicians. We get a wide array of instruments to paint many pictures throughout the 58-minute runtime such as guitars, fretless bass, drums, saxophone, wind instruments, synths, theremin (I love that instrument!), and e-violin. “Noum Afrah” gets the show going, evoking mysterious, smoky rooms. It tends to drag a bit, running close to 14 minutes. “Toraam Oshaam” follows, a subtler track with prog elements where the sax is at the forefront. “Borollo” is quieter, it builds slowly and the lineup plays more in unison than on the previous two numbers. The penultimate piece, “Koatakane”, runs at 16 minutes and really felt like it overstayed its welcome by the end. I guess that’s where the improvised nature of what Kajgūn does tends to be a double-edged sword: an extended jam that just goes on for too long. Then again, improvisation oftentimes leads to creating magic and allows room to be daring in its approach. For my part, I just found that this track lost steam the longer it went on. The show comes to an end with “Prawu Yraad”, the shortest tune, clocking in at 6 minutes. Here the band sounds tighter and plays with more urgency. It’s my favorite track of the LP.

I must admit that for me, this album left less of an impression than Daogoad did. I don’t know if it’s because the novelty factor of merging jazz and metal that the previous record had (for me at least) has worn off, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. I also think that sometimes the large number of instruments can be a detriment to the songs. Sometimes less is more and having too many instruments can prevent the music from breathing. Don’t get me wrong, FZ22 is a good record and those who appreciate improvised jam sessions or lengthy jazz and/or metal performances will undoubtedly get a kick out of this album. Mileage may vary. I also believe that witnessing this concert in person would’ve heightened its enjoyment. A video of the full show will also be released and I have a feeling that watching the musicians play these compositions in a live setting will be a more rewarding experience than simply having the audio. In the end, while I find this album to be less focused than the previous one, it remains a feat to be able to put on a raw, spontaneous performance in front of an audience time and time again. In any case, check it out and judge for yourself; it’ll be out on November 26th.

Kajgūn on Bandcamp: 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Musings: Titanosaur – No One Home

On December 9th, the mighty Titanosaur will unleash a new EP, his second album this year: No One Home. Titanosaur is the brainchild of one-man army Geoff Saavedra. The man does it all so convincingly that you can easily be fooled into thinking that you’re listening to a three or four-piece band. Not only that, but as if two albums in the same calendar year weren’t enough, Titanosaur’s been featured on many compilations and projects throughout the year. From contributions on The Swamp Records’ Support Ukrainian Refugees in Poland with the relentless track “Stand Up”, to awesome covers of Motorhead (“Bomber”) and The Misfits (“I Turned into a Martian”), and even an appearance on the Harbinger of D.O.O.M.’s Doom Comes Knocking compilation with a revamped version of his classic “Escape Velocity”, Titanosaur is super prolific and has left his stamp all over 2022. So, what can you expect from No One Home? Let’s dig in, shall we?

From the get-go, you can tell this is a very personal album for Geoff. If you follow Titanosaur on social media, then you know he’s battling health issues and music gives him courage and is a conduit for him to express his emotions and apprehensions. Kudos to him for always keeping his head high and raging forward. This album has heart, a lot of heart, and it elevates the finished product immensely. The title track, “No One Home”, starts off slow with a throbbing bassline, picking up speed along the way in true Titanosaur fashion. This is one of his best songs ever, in my humble opinion. “Eater of Death” was the first single and it’s easy to see why. If you’re on Metal Twitter, then I can’t imagine you wouldn’t be familiar with it. It’s a kick-ass, take-your-life kind of song, catchy as hell, and again very personal. “My Words Are Apocalypse” has got a really cool rhythm and is what I like to refer to as a head-bobbing tune. It’s impossible to listen to this song and sit still without getting physically involved. “The Spaces Between” is a definite highlight of the EP, one of those songs that immerse you into their fabric. Plus, it’s got one of Geoff’s most creative videos that he made for it. Add videographer/filmmaker/editor to the list of many hats he wears. Titanosaur’s videos are always fun to watch and this one is top-tier. Check it out on YouTube. “This Isn’t How” comes on with its pounding drums, towering vocals, and tone of looming danger to transition to the closing track, a superb acoustic version of “Eater of Death” with keys to add an extra layer. It’s a terrific arrangement that gives the original song a run for its money. When you strip down a song of all its bells and whistles and it sounds even better, then you know you’ve got something special.

In February, Titanosaur gave us the excellent Absence of Universe and to book-end the year, No One Home will land in December. Of the two, I’d give the slight edge to No One Home as my personal favorite. This 6-track collection is flawless. Although, if I had to nitpick, I’d wish he’d included the Eater of Death B-side, “The Time is Now”, as a seventh track. That song features a killer guitar solo and I’m quite fond of it, but I digress. As it stands, if you’re into heavy metal and sludge metal, this album’s a strong candidate to wind up on year-end best albums lists. Titanosaur continues to be a force to be reckoned with, cultivating a distinct guitar sound, unmistakable vocals, and good times guaranteed.

Titanosaur on Bandcamp: 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Musings: Jill Tracy - The Secret Music of Lily Dale

Let’s do something different today to broaden your musical horizons. Many years in the making, Jill Tracy brings us at last her superb compendium of mysterious piano compositions. Recorded in the eerie town of Lily Dale, New York, The Secret Music of Lily Dale features Ms. Tracy playing the grand piano all alone in Lily Dale’s ancient auditorium. The arrangements that form this gem of an album were raw, spontaneous melodies she recorded in the moment with background sounds of birds, crickets, rain, thunderclaps, and wandering spirits.

Here is the official summary of The Secret Music of Lily Dale: “A rare peek inside the famed little town that talks to the dead—with both sights and sounds. An unprecedented project, Jill Tracy reveals a sonic exploration of Lily Dale, the private community of mediums and Spiritualists in upstate New York. These are her elegant, mystical, late-night piano recordings channeled alone on an antique grand piano inside the 1883 auditorium, site of séances and spirit communication for over 100 years. Bask in the vast, otherworldly ambience, the magical Leolyn Woods, nighttime thunderstorms, Lily Dale's beloved bells, chimes, and nature. During her nights alone at the piano, you’ll witness mysterious sounds that appeared on the recording that defy explanation. Beautiful, contemplative, and mysterious... be transported into a truly magical place few ever get to experience.” The 69-minute album comes with a gorgeous 50-page (digital/hardbound) book chock-full of Jill’s writings and photographs of her time spent in Lily Dale.

Lily Dale 

I’ve been a huge fan of Jill Tracy for over a decade. I stumbled upon her music by chance on Bandcamp sometime in 2011 and have followed her ever since. Her 1999 album, Diabolical Streak, is one of my top ten favorite albums of all-time. Every now and then, she plays with her Malcontent Orchestra in and around San Francisco on Halloween, performing a live soundtrack to F.W. Murnau’s seminal 1922 Nosferatu film. I’d love to make the trip from Montreal to Frisco one day to catch a showing of this classic movie while she plays the soundtrack on piano in the same room. That’s actually one of my bucket list items.

Jill Tracy

The Secret Music of Lily Dale features a collection of 17 entrancing melodies full of mystery. It’s a fully immersive sonic excursion best experienced in the dark with headphones on to hear all the subtleties and feel the textures of Jill’s performance. Some of the highlights of the album for me are “Through These Gates the Veil Thins”, the incredibly atmospheric opening track, its follow-up, “Crystalline Sky”, “The Bird Song” where the melody is sung back by the birds, “Pink Clouds in the Grey”, the hypnotic “The Night Resonance”, “Twilight in Leolyn Woods” (especially the second part), the lovely “Rain Waltz”, and the haunting “Midnight Spirits of Lily Dale”. The final piece is a soothing recording of ambient nature sounds titled “A Meditation at Inspiration Stump”.

Yours truly, Halloween 2012

The accompanying 50-page book is a visual delight. Jill gives an account of her time spent in Lily Dale and its surroundings. She also traces the 130 plus year history of the southwestern New York State town and shares her process of how she went about this project. It’s filled with exquisite photos, some historical, others simply spooky snapshots she took. It makes me wish I’d bought the hardbound book instead of the digital album/PDF!

This is an album I’ll treasure for years to come! Listening to The Secret Music of Lily Dale is akin to embarking on a magical trip through a portal to a strange, secret world. Whether you’re a neophyte to Jill Tracy’s unique brand of dark cabaret/post classical music or a long-time fan of hers, this collection of pieces is guaranteed to seduce and enrapture you.

Jill Tracy on Bandcamp: 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Chilly November Ushers in Bandcamp Friday!

The penultimate Bandcamp Friday of 2022 has arrived! By now you know the drill: Bandcamp waives its revenue share and all the money goes directly to the artists and labels for a full 24 hours. There’s no better time to support indie artists than today! Here is my usual rundown with my five picks for the occasion.

First off, what is the Album of the Month for me, Montreal’s own Metalian have unleashed their phenomenal fifth LP titled Beyond the Wall. If old school heavy metal is your thing, especially of the Judas Priest variety, then this album will rock your world! You can read my thoughts on it here. Do your ears a favour and pick it up over here.

Second, another tremendous Canadian band, Spell, from Vancouver, released a stunning record: Tragic Magic. It’s melodic, hypnotic metal with lots of prog thrown in. Fans of Rush, Yes, Supertramp, and ‘80s metal will have a blast with this one. Get it over here.

Third, from Genoa, Italy comes ExpiatoriA and an album 35 years in the making! Shadows is a terrific doomy gothic metal album. I reviewed it a little while ago and I did an interview with the band which will appear soon on the blog. Give their awesome record a spin here.

Fourth, Houston, Texas’ Warlung just released their most accomplished album yet in the form of Vulture’s Paradise. A great blend of metal/psych/doom that goes down easy. I gave my thoughts on it here a couple of weeks ago. Take a trip to their BC page and you’ll be flying away in no time.

Fifth, and now for something completely different, one of my favourite artists of the last 20 years, Jill Tracy, finally released the recordings she did at Lily Dale. Jill is a wonderful dark cabaret/post classical pianist/singer and her albums are always magical to listen to. This body of work she’s created at Lily Dale is mysterious and entrancing. I’m over the moon about this gem of an album! It comes with a gorgeous 50-page digital book (or a CD and a hardbound book if you purchase a physical copy). I’ll have a review of it sometime this weekend, but in the meantime, head over to her BC page and add it to your cart.

And that’s a wrap for another Bandcamp Friday! Only one left and 2022 will be in the books. Show your love and support the bands, the labels, and this great platform which puts all this wonderful music at the tips of our fingers. Until next time, enjoy the tunes!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Musings: Metalian - Beyond the Wall

Happy Halloween, everyone! While not exactly Halloween-centric, I’ve got some musings on a phenomenal album for you today. Montreal-based traditional heavy metal quartet Metalian have struck again with their fifth album, Beyond the Wall. Comprised of Ian Wilson on vocals/guitar, Simon Costa on lead guitar, Andres Arango on bass, and Tony Cantara on drums, Metalian’s latest opus was released a few days ago through Quebec’s Temple of Mystery Records. Being a Montreal native, I’m always stoked when a local band I love releases a new record. It’s already been three years since their last studio offering, Vortex, but “The Canadian Judas Priest” are back better than ever.

Beyond the Wall is a concept album of sorts, kind of a heavy metal cross between Pink Floyd’s The Wall, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The story told through 10 songs deals with the apocalypse and a corrupted system where humans try to reach the paradise that lies beyond the wall. The tale begins with “March to the Death”, a gorgeous opener hearkening back to ‘70s rock, featuring terrific banshee screams from frontman Ian Wilson. “Motorhorse”, the 2nd single, is an absolutely infectious track showcasing dueling guitars and is one of the highlights of the album. “Fire on the Road” is a speedy, riff-heavy, earth-scorching metal tune. Solid from start to finish. “Last Chance to Ride” is a cool Maidenesque galloping metal anthem while “Solar Winds” slows the frenetic pace and shows the band’s musical versatility. “Rise of the AI” is one of my faves; the tide is turning in the story. The title track, “Beyond the Wall”, is fantastic and has echoes of early ‘80s Judas Priest. Another highlight of this record. “Behind the Lies” was the first single and it’s easy to see why: an instant heavy metal classic with a catchy chorus and riffs galore, deeply rooted in ‘80s metal. Possibly my favourite song on an album of favourites. The aptly titled “Cold Thunder” strikes like a clap of thunder with its relentless onslaught of guitars, falsetto vocals, pounding bass, and rumbling drums. The story comes to an end with “Dark City”, which in my humble opinion should be the next single. It’s an awesome song, maybe the catchiest and most accessible of the LP. It’s radio-ready and has got a ton of vintage ‘80s arena rock vibes.

October has been a very strong month for new releases, including one of my most anticipated albums of the year with Skid Row’s excellent The Gang’s All Here. But I’m here to tell you that Metalian’s Beyond the Wall takes the crown as best LP of October for me, and a sure-fire candidate in my Top 10 Albums of 2022. It might be recency bias talking but I think this could very well be Metalian’s best record yet! If you’re already a fan of the band, you’re gonna love Beyond the Wall. If you’re new to this uber-talented heavy metal quartet, then this is the perfect starting point. It’s traditional metal done to perfection and this is an album that I’ll have on heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.

Metalian on Bandcamp: