Is it Christmas yet? We're certainly starting to feel it now, as this week we unveiled the celebratory new issue of Metal Hammer that covers everything you need from 2022, as well as opened the polls for our massive songs of the year vote, based largely on the results of this here weekly poll.
Speaking of, it's not over yet! Metallica's surprise new single last week showed there's still plenty to be excited about in new releases as we reach the holiday period, and perhaps unsurprisingly they dominated last week's vote. There was a strong showing in the undercard, however - prog metal legends Katatonia took a very admirable second place, while Beyond The Black's shift away from symphonic sounds on Dancing In The Dark narrowly beat out exciting newcomers St. Aurora.
This week we're still firing on all cylinders - Steel Panther are celebrating 80s metal (moreso than usual), we had a surprise drop of two new Zeal & Ardor tracks and fresh music from the likes of Avatar, Russkaja and Jesus Piece. As ever, you can vote for your favourite below, so have at it!
Within Temptation - The Fire Within
Available to preview for anyone who caught their spectacular live show earlier this year, The Fire Within is the fifth single Within Temptation have released since 2020. Moving away from their usual symphonic grandeur, The Fire Within is a punchier track more led by pulsing synths than what many fans may be used to, but as ever Sharon Den Adel's powerful vocal still shines brightest.
Steel Panther - 1987
Steel Panther sing about the 80s. That’s not so much a description of their new single 1987 as their entire careers, but the song goes hard on its references to 80s classics ranging from Whitesnake’s Still Of The Night to Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train. Granted, the fact the song is more of a power ballad means it doesn’t get to hit with as much power as the aforementioned songs, but Satchel’s guitar god skills still rule the day to remind us why we loved those songs in the first place.
Avatar - The Dirt I’m Buried In
If there’s one thing you can rely on when it comes to Avatar, it’s that the band will always deliver a massive sense of flair and panache. The Dirt I’m Buried In is all about that, built around a funky beat and oh-so-singable chorus that’ll have you strutting in no time. Props to the Universal Horror-inspired collection of horror figures that pop up in the video, too.
Zeal & Ardor - Firewake
This year’s self-titled third record set a new standard of brilliance for Zeal & Ardor, but already it looks like they have their eyes on the future with the surprise release of new songs Firewake and Cinq. While Cinq is an instrumental piano tune (much like the interludes of Devil Is Fine), Firewake is a prime example of the black-metal-meets-delta-blues fusion at the core of their sound, spiky blasts of blackened fury skewering the listener and leaving them captivated.
Jesus Piece - An Offering To The Night
In a little over two minutes, Jesus Piece tear down the walls and go utterly berserk to a thuggish, snarling soundtrack of hard-hitting metallic hardcore. But then, that’s what Jesus Piece are all about, their first new release since their 2018 debut showing they’ve only grown more ferocious over the past four years. With an appearance at Outbreak Festival in the UK lined up for 2023 and plenty of tour dates to keep them occupied, we can only hope that their much-anticipated second album will be with us next year.
Oni - Iron Heart
Oni might generally categorise themselves under the progressive metalcore banner, but there’s more than a shade of nu metal to new single Iron Heart. From its rapped verses to the sense of anthemic enormity that comes in during the chorus, Iron Heart captures the same energy of early Linkin Park, while stamping their own identity over the song so it never feels like a mindless throwback.
Russkaja - No Borders
Folk metal meets ska and polka based on traditional Russian music. Russkaja have been proudly iconoclastic since 2005, but No Borders sees the band drawing on their Ukrainian and Russian heritage to craft a plea for unity after the events of the past twelve months. It’s a catchy and energetic tune that plays up to folk metal’s daftest tendencies musically, but delivers a message that is poignant and universal.
Stormo - Valichi, Oltre
Freshly signed to Prosthetic Records, Italian post-hardcore crew Stormo have released an angular, cascading blast of post-hardcore in Valichi, Oltre, taken from the band’s forthcoming new album Endocannibalismo. Touche Amore-style emotion mixes with the frenetic riffing of Glassjaw or Alexisonfire, making for a refreshingly different take on the post-hardcore framework.
In Fear - Abyss
We might be headed towards Christmas, but nasty little brutes like Abyss, the new single from UK newcomers In Fear, prove it isn’t all twinkling pianos and sleighbells. Frenzied and frenetic metallic hardcore meets the airy melody of Deftones in the song’s four-minute (and change) runtime, taking a similar stance to breakout acts like Loathe and Heriot in balancing sheer ferocity with a sense of harmony that makes the whole song sizzle with intensity and exciting, unpredictable energy. Ones to watch, for sure.
Her Alone - Mother Gaia
Following in the footsteps of fellow Finns (and symphonic metal icons) Nightwish, newcomers Her Alone are delivering grandiose melodies with orchestral sensibilities on their new single Mother Gaia. Taken from the band’s upcoming EP Dead End Dream, Mother Gaia has more than a tinge of gothic darkness you might expect of early Within Temptation, all building towards an 80s power-ballad style solo that really highlights the arena sensibilities Her Alone are delivering. In keeping with the song’s environmentalist themes, all sales of the single will be donated to the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.