[Click on band name for samples and more info]
The Dagger - The Dagger (Century Media)
The debut album from this Swedish band takes the listener back to the weird time in between the creative apex of Sabbath and before the NWOBHM turned heavy metal on its head. Combining the riffs and bombast of late-70’s Priest with the melodic leanings of Blue Oyster Cult, The Dagger truly nails that classic metal sound. They even have a song titled “1978”, in case you weren’t sure where their heads were at while writing this record. “Nocturnal Triumph” might be the catchiest metal song you’ll hear all year. This is just an incredibly fun album.
Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails (Unique Leader)
I usually stay away from “-core” stuff, but on their second album, San Francisco’s Fallujah brings enough technicality and brutality to catch my ear. I wasn’t aware that atmospheric death metal was a thing, but I’m certainly intrigued. It veers close to metalcore territory, but strips out all of the pathetic, whiny elements that make metalcore unlistenable. Tons of riffs here, with killer vocals, loud production and soaring atmosphere in spades.
King of Asgard - Karg (Metal Blade)
The Swedish quartet returns with their 3rd album, a 50 minute affair chock full of classic melodic death riffage with Norse mythology themes and Viking metal atmosphere. Think Amon Amarth, but slightly less formulaic. The riffs are a little more blackened, the production colder and the vocals a little raspier than the typical release in this genre, but these guys definitely hold their own in the Viking metal world.