HIGH PRIEST – Sanctum EP

Formed in 2016, Chicago’s High Priest mix doomy metal and heavy blues sounds in a way that’ll be guaranteed to please fans of ‘Americas Volume Dealer’ era Corrosion of Conformity as well as those who’ve made it all the way through the particularly lengthy 2CD edition of Jerry Cantrell’s ‘Degradation Trip Vols. 1 & 2’. Here is a band that not only loves a heavy riff but truly understands that heaviness is at its most effective when applied to a strong melody. As a result, ‘Sanctum’ is a must-hear.

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THE GLORIOUS REBELLION – Scholars Of War EP

Five years into a career of pummelling audiences with riffs, Orlando’s Glorious Rebellion present a mini masterpiece with their 2019 EP ‘Scholars of War’. Its three tracks offer a world of glorious and sludgy wonderment that’s as quirky as it is genuinely heavy.

Lead track ‘Turn Around, Bright Eyes’ quickly raises a wry smile with a reference that instantly calls to mind an 80s evergreen hit from Bonnie Tyler and Jim Steinman, though any kind of musical pomposity or video clips of spinning ninjas really couldn’t be further from the band’s collective mind. Within seconds, they launch into something that sounds like the best thing you’ve heard from Helmet since the release of the ‘Betty’ album about a hundred years ago. The repetitive, sledgehammer riff not only feels like something derived from brilliant Helmet songs of yore, but guitarist Billy Myers also absolutely nails that Page Hamilton tone, giving everything a really distinctive sound; one that refuses to hide such a chief influence. Add to this a terrifically gruff vocal and a pounding rhythm section that’s a match for any within arty metal circles and things get off to an absolutely blazing start. The heaviness of the riffs actually takes so much priority, you might not find any instant lyrical hooks but, of course, the heaviness is the hook and by the time a near-perfect Helmet tribute descends into squalls of feedback with Myers repeatedly bellowing “I am the fucking problem” as a repeated refrain, there’s absolutely no doubt you’re in the presence of a band that truly means business.
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ANIMAL DRIVE – Back To The Roots EP

In 2018, Croatian hard rockers Animal Drive released their debut album ‘Bite!’ on Frontiers Records. With plenty of hard rock crunch, the record drew parallels with the heavier end of Skid Row’s early output, as well as showing off more than a passing fancy with the late, great Ronnie James Dio. The record featured at least a half dozen cuts that were well worth hearing, but if anything, it was the Dio-tastic ‘Time Machine’ with its heavy but melodic riff which best demonstrated the band’s skills.

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THE WHITE SWAN – Touch Taste Destroy EP

Between the doom metal riffs and darkwave synths, The White Swan gave the world two potential classics with their respective 2016 and 2017 EPs, ‘Anubis’ and ‘The White’. Lovers of heavy riffs were given plenty to mull over with the band’s self-penned material while the heaviest ever version of Wings’ ‘Jet’ proved the Ontario-based doomers also had a sense of fun. Their eagerly awaited 2018 release ‘Touch Taste Destroy’ doesn’t necessarily think much further outside of the box – but then, it doesn’t need to; The White Swan’s gift of riffs combined with an ultimate heaviness sees the three numbers off in particularly great style.

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