THROAT LOCUST – Dragged Through Glass EP

This debut from American death metal band Throat Locust might only present three tracks, but in terms of being an effective CV, ‘Dragged Through Glass’ suggests immediate greatness. Taking elements of a classic death metal sound derived from Entombed, Bolt Thrower and Death, and fusing that with some of the heaviest groove metal touches ever, they have the subtlety of a truck, but in extreme metal terms, they could be the best band to emerge since Eaten By Sharks released their debut in a pre-pandemic 2019. Considering the release claims to be only a demo recording, that says a lot about how strong they already sound.

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EATEN BY SHARKS – Eradication

Every band needs to grow; to move forward and mature. This is even true of any smart thinking extreme metal band. In the case of Ontario’s Eaten By Sharks, the musical shift between their 2019 EP ‘We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat’ and 2022’s ‘Eradication’ isn’t just a natural progression, but a seismic leap.

They’ve held on to their great heaviness – that was always going to be the case – but on the bulk of the material that makes up this second release, they’ve traded in some of their harsher traits in favour of a more melodic death metal approach, and a vastly improved production job allows for a much broader vocal throughout the seven tracks. This doesn’t mean they’ve wimped out or even sold out in any way, since the material is still cut from some brilliantly uncompromising riffs. It’s just a little more mature, in a good way. Unless you’re one of those narrow minded extreme metal fans who want everything to stay truly marginal, it would be hard to argue against any of these changes being for the better.

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ILLA – The Body Keeps The Score EP

Formed by Tan (the ex-frontman for death metal band By The Patient) and Martin (the ex-vocalist for Danish black metal act Lupus), Illa presents something of a departure for both musicians. Combining a groove metal heart with some serious hardcore/metal crossover chops, this EP retains the kind of intensities you’d expect from both men, but uses their talents in a very different – and more accessible – way. Their four track debut is a riff heavy affair that’ll pretty much appeal to anyone with any interests in hardcore and crossover sounds, since its four tracks are a sharp reminder of why the metal infused influences from bands like Strife and Earth Crisis never seem to go out of fashion.

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SLAVE STEEL – Dream Of Decadence EP

Slave Steel’s independently released debut LP ‘Entanglement’ came with a brilliant riff heavy sound that introduced the band with a great confidence. A few of the vocals were a little scratchy in places, but the material had the kind of strength and confidence you’d expect from a band with far more years behind them. As if realising there was a little room for improvement, the band took three of the album’s songs and re-recorded with superior vocal takes for a self-titled EP in 2017. This proved to be a good move, taking a much bigger step towards capturing that perfect sound.

Much like the material chosen for the self-titled release, the four tracks that make up Slave Steel’s 2021 release ‘Dream of Decadence’ have origins that date further back. ‘Ogre Cage’ was first released in video form in 2019 – at a time when the world hadn’t been derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic – and the remaining songs were issued sporadically throughout the following year. Although the material been circulating for some time, the opportunity to hear it properly sequenced and in one place really lends everything a welcome extra punch.

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BLESS THE DEAD – Overdue Lies EP

Following the release of a couple of EP’s, Bless The Dead’s full length release ‘The Boars Nest’ (Sliptrick Records, 2018) cemented their reputation as a growing force within the world of groove metal. Taking cues from Pantera and Lamb of God, the record wasn’t particularly original, but what it did, it did brilliantly. In approximately half an hour, it showcased a riff-centric band ready to bring their brand of metal to the masses. In an ideal world it very much needed a timely follow up to really gain traction – supplying something of a massive one-two punch – but it would take almost three years for the band to deliver their next studio recordings.

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