7 min read

The second instalment of our new Sunday feature for Blessed Altar Zine! From this point on, this feature will appear at the end of every month – specifically the fourth Sunday – with a narrowed streamlined focus on the more significant Metal releases to be unleashed in the forthcoming month! So today we look at the month of May! The line up across the next 30 days or so looks rather stellar, with May 10th standing out with some exciting top notch new albums to wrap your skull around.

Here’s a delightful mix of heaviness for you and your wallet to consider: Give solace to the following six albums – May’s Event Horizon!

SPIRIT ADRIFT – Divided By Darkness
RELEASED: May 10th
STYLE: Heavy Metal/Doom stylings
LABEL: 20 Buck Spin
LINK: Bandcamp

SPIRIT ADRIFT’s third album ‘Divided By Darkness’ delivers on the promise first revealed on ‘Curse Of Conception’ and then advances far beyond it in every way achieving a timeless album for the ages. First single ‘Hear Her’ pummels with the concise urgency and unforgettable chorus of a vital radio hit while ‘Angel & Abyss’ has the classic progression that leads from reflective ballad to rapturous anthemic triumph. The continued evolution of Nathan Garrett as a top vocal talent in modern Heavy Metal shines through amidst the masterful musicianship and huge production value engineered by Sanford Parker.

Among the many stylistic divergences within rock and metal, SPIRIT ADRIFT’s ‘Divided By Darkness’ understands that there is no substitute for huge ambition, soul-bearing lyricism and most importantly the ability of a pristinely penned riff and impassioned chorus to alter hearts and minds. Astonishingly ‘Divided By Darkness’ is Spirit Adrift’s heaviest and most accessible album to date and will stand as the apex of Heavy Metal songcraft in 2019.  (from 20 Buck Spin Bio)

STYLE: Sci-Fi Tech Death Metal
LABEL: Profound Lore
LINK: Bandcamp 

Resurrected from the ashes of one of the most influential death metal bands of all time, Nocturnus, NOCTURNUS AD was initiated by founding mastermind/death metal legend Mike Browning (also co-founder of Morbid Angel). His intention? To continue the path laid down twenty-eight years earlier, by the legendary Florida death metal band’s seminal 1990 full-length The Key, an album recognized as one of the most important death metal albums of all time.

NOCTURNUS AD’s Paradox is the direct and proper follow-up to The Key, both musically and thematically where the story and themes vocalist/drummer Browning initially laid out continue through the lens of the occult. Paradox’s story follows the journey of Dr. Allen William Magus (aka Dr. Magus), a scientist ravaged by a war plague disease and kept alive by creating a bio suit; the aftermath of the events revealed on The Key.

On a musical plane, Paradox’s atmospheric, technical, and dark occult death metal blueprint harnesses the energy of The Key and the overall death metal vibe of the early ‘90s in the same forward-thinking way that Nocturnus exhibited. Indeed, Paradox is true sci-fi death metal reclaiming its throne.

With Browning commanding the craft alongside guitarists Demian Heftel and Belial Koblak, bassist Daniel Tucker (ex-Obituary), and keyboardist Josh Holdren — a lineup that also forms Browning’s other band, After Death — the Nocturnus legacy marches on.

Paradox was produced by Jarrett Pritchard (Goatwhore, 1349, Gruesome, Wolvhammer) at New Constellation Studios and features artwork by Timbul Cahyono (Pyrexia, Avulsed, Terrorizer). Boasting the blazing and fervent guitar work agilities of Heftel and Koblak and some of the most carefully-orchestrated keyboard sounds of any Nocturnus-related release to date, all punctuated by Browning’s distinctly devouring vocal incantations, the classic sound of The Key is here wholly revived.

Comments Browning of the release and first single “Precession Of The Equinoxes,” “I think Paradox is a great successor to The Key. I didn’t want to try and compete with what I did on that record or try and recreate it. I wanted to continue with the ideas and themes I never got to do back then. ‘Precession Of The Equinoxes’ is a brand new song that talks about the shifting of the magnetic poles of Earth. And in fact right now the magnetic poles are shifting faster than ever; it has been in the news just in the last couple of months. It happens in 26,000 year cycles, so we humans have never experienced a pole shift to where its effects were recorded. It could be a huge, disastrous occurrence when they shift completely.”

Paradox will be issued on CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats. (From Profound Lore Bio)

WAR CURSE – Eradication
RELEASED: May 10th
STYLE: Thrash Metal
LABEL: Svart Records
LINK: Watch “Serpent” on YouTube

The Bay comes to Ohio! Thrash soldiers WAR CURSE channel that iconic thrash sound on their second album, Eradication. But this isn’t a bunch of upstarts in someone’s garage worshipping their heroes – this is a group of seasoned vets whose callused hands and chords are a testament to their dedication to the craft.

Each tune is jam-packed with heavy metal riffing, backed with a steel structure of thrash rhythms. Blaine Gordon’s vocals straddle that boundary between harsh and melodic that Uncle Chuck does so well, while Joshua Murphy and Justin Roth showcase excellent guitar chemistry whether trading solos or riffing from opposite ends of the stereo system. The rhythm section are no slouches either, whether setting a frenetic pace on “Possession” or barreling through groove on the title track.

As mentioned earlier, the line-up is star-studded, even without getting into the guest performances. James Goetz made his mark drumming for 90s power metallers Division, while Jason Vie Brooks is currently holding down bass for cult heroes Heathen and Exhorder. He invites the legendary Kyle Thomas from the latter to lay down vocals on the penultimate “Deadly Silence”, where his harsh rasp duels with Gordon’s more melodic touch. Further familiar faces crop up on the opening track with Forbidden’s Glen Alvelais, who lays down a ripping solo, and Kragen Lum ( Heathen / Exodus ) lives up to the ‘Serpent’ song title with his weaving contribution.

Whether a battle-hardened veteran who knows their thrash inside out, or a fresher face getting to grips with the genre, War Curse will not steer you wrong, and Eradication proves that heavy metal still has plenty of life in 2019. (From the Svart Records Bio)

SAINT VITUS – Saint Vitus
RELEASED: May 17th
STYLE: Black/Death/Doom
LABEL: Season of Mist
LINK: Bandcamp 

Probably one of the most important Doom Metal bands to come out of the USA – Seven years after their epic comeback album, ‘Lillie: F-65’ (2012), legendary doom metal trailblazers SAINT VITUS return with their eponymous new album. The band sees the return of their original vocalist, Scott Reagers, as well as the addition of new bassist Pat Bruders (DOWN, ex-CROWBAR), who join long-time drummer Henry Vasquez and founder/guitarist Dave Chandler. As if in a time machine, the seasoned quartet pick up where their 1985 classic ‘Hallows Victim’ left off. Saint Vitus delivers nothing less than the truest and most enduring representation of original and fundamental doom metal.  Recording: Heavyhead Recording co. Port Orchard, WA (US). Producer/sound engineer: Tony Reed. (from the SOM Bio)

RELEASED: May 31st
STYLE: Old School Slow/Black Heavy Metal
LABEL: Peaceville Records
LINK: Watch “The Hardship of the Scots”on YouTube  

Norwegian black metal veterans DARKTHRONE — still with classic-era vocalist/guitarist Nocturno Culto and drummer Fenriz — are set to follow 2016’s Arctic Thunder with their seventeenth album, Old Star, on May 31 via Peaceville.  Nocturno Culto produced and engineered the album, and Sanford Parker mixed it.

Fenriz says, “Old star – again we are here with THE RIFFS! A while after our previous ARCTIC THUNDER album it became apparent that we would continue in that same style, BLACK OLD HEAVY METAL with slow thrash, classic doom and slow death metal,” and he also adds, “All in all it is our most 80s album so far and our most metal one to date with drum sound typical for the 80s USA/German market and damned lyrics, which are all written by me. We feel that OLD STAR is the big brother of ARCTIC THUNDER. More solid and with even better riffs.”

KAMPFAR – Ofidians Manifest
STYLE: Norwegian Pagan Black Metal!
LABEL: Indie Recordings
LINK: Watch “Ophidian” on YouTube

With album No.8, ‘Ofidians Manifest’ represents KAMPFAR anno 2019. 25 years on from their foundation, only willing to release new music if they felt it would surpass all they had done before, it is a condensation of the immense struggles of the last few years. Everything that has been hidden behind the music and the live performances is laid bare, though told in the only way the band can portray themselves, through songs. It is immensely honest yet wrapped in their own folklore, the snake tongues splitting every truth into two deeper truths, every word sung dominated by the weight of all those sung before.

The madness of Medusa was chosen as a visual clue to the record’s themes, represented by two different paintings to be explored on the physical releases. And again, the band decided to travel to Poland to record a music video, this time with director Dariusz Szermanowicz of Grupa 13. The video, hinting at the many underlying stories of the album, is a chaotic depiction of the road back to equilibrium, a place no one knows yet all walk towards. According to Ask Ty, the choice of song proclaiming the band’s return was made because “it tells you everything you need to know about KAMPFAR today, distilled down to four and a half minutes of intense breaks and turns, it is the beginning and the end and the new beginnings after that, and it is the sound of a band that is alive and well.” (From KAMPFAR History Bio)

Carefully selected by KMaN

**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre