It's a surprisingly sparse spooky offering this week, the ghouls and goblins of metal clearly waiting for Halloween proper on Monday before they unleash the forces of hell. Don't let that fool you into thinking it's not a spectacular spread, though as we have mammoth offerings from Halestorm, Avatar and Nita Strauss for your listening pleasure.
First up, the results of last week's vote. We all know Babymetal fans are some of the most passionate on the planet, and the fact they won the week's vote by such a wide margin is testament to their love for the J-metal superstars. Special mention to Tarja Turunen however, whose fans propelled her to a massive victory over Megadeth.
This week we've got an eclectic spread of sounds for your discerning tastes. Halestorm and Nita Strauss both hit up some 80s guitar god enormity, while an all-star team-up of Conjurer, Pupil Slicer, Sugar Horse and Nuala Honan holds up both metal's extremity and experimentalist tendencies. There's also the return of post-hardcore heroes Hundred Reasons and new singles from Katatonia, Avatar and Bob Vylan, amongst others. As ever don't forget to vote for your favourite below!
Halestorm - Mine
There’s always been a sense of 80s rock enormity to Halestorm, but with new single Mine the band are fully embracing a synthed-up vision that would do the ‘Hoff proud. Taken from the upcoming deluxe edition of Back From The Dead, Mine is a propulsive rock banger, Lzzy Hale dialing back the ferocity (only a little, mind) to drift along some Tron style retro-futurist melodies, complete with some stunning guitar leads right from the book of Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen.
Avatar - Dance Devil Dance
Few bands merge extremity, quirkiness and insidiously catchy tunes as well as Avatar. The title-track from their forthcoming ninth record, Dance Devil Dance chucks shades of extreme metal, thrash and even glam into a blender before setting it to a typically bizarre and eye-grabbing video and dousing the whole thing in splatter and body-horror. It might be catchy as all hell, but Avatar aren’t about to turn their back on their sideshow freak lineage.
Nita Strauss - The Wolf You Feed (ft. Alissa White-Gluz)
Nita Strauss might be playing with Demi Lovato these days, but that hasn’t stopped her exploring more extreme territories. Recruiting Arch Enemy howler-in-chief Alissa White-Gluz, The Wolf You Feed goes deep into raging melodeath territory. Combining arena-sized choruses with old-school 80s guitar mastery, The Wolf You Feed is a massive anthem that honestly has us wondering what it would be like hearing a full melodeath record with Strauss's stunning playing.
Hundred Reasons - Glorious Sunset
00s post-hardcore heroes Hundred Reasons have been knocking about in some form or another for the past decade, but Glorious Sunset represents their first new music in 15 years. Considering the renaissance of nu metal, reappearance of NWOAHM and nostalgia for emo, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, thumping rock anthems signaling a very welcome return from the British band.
Katatonia - Atrium
With a new album set for release in January (and next year marking 30 years since their debut, Dance Of December Souls), Katatonia remain the masters of blending expansive prog and melancholic doom in a fusion both enthralling and exciting. Strident and packed with soaring vocal melodies, Atrium embraces a grandiose sound whilst not losing sight of the visceral engine that powered Katatonia three decades ago, even if the more extreme elements have long since been stripped away.
Spiritworld - Relic Of Damnation
Stick Slayer, Obituary and Hatebreed in a blender and you might just get something sounding like Spiritworld’s Relic Of Damnation. Rampaging death-flecked heaviness, Relic Of Damnation combines colossal riffs, Kerry King-style guitar fills and brutal vocal hooks in a sleek Western package, the song’s accompanying video playing out like a Rob Zombie take on Western cinema with a heavy dose of gore, brutality and unsettling imagery.
Bob Vylan - The Delicate Nature (ft. Laurie Vincent)
Cuttingly insightful, Bob Vylan’s newest single The Delicate Nature trades off the punk vitriol of their first two albums for electronica-infused danceable beats. While these elements have always been present in Vylan’s music, The Delicate Nature puts them front and centre. The proclamation that ‘things are changing round here’ rings true as a hint to what the next stage of Vylan’s musical evolution will be, whilst still keeping the all-out explosiveness towards the end of the song that will please anyone who loves the pure aggro of Vylan’s earlier material.
Sugar Horse x Pupil Slicer x Conjurer x Nuala Honan - Gutted
Talk about UK all-stars. Some of the hottest names in the extreme and alternative pantheon team up on a lurching, snarling monster, only to switch things to the ethereal realms of goth midway through. But then, there is no clear sonic throughline between the likes of Sugar Horse, Pupil Slicer, Conjurer or Nuala Honan, so it stands to reason that a collaboration of their creative forces would be a delightfully multi-faceted beast.
Therion - Codex Gigas
Codex Gigas isn’t the first time Therion have tried their hand at genre-shifting - long before they were symphonic metal pioneers they were death metal brutes - but this latest single seems a perfect use of their most epic and grandiose songwriting talents in pursuit of the ultimate gothic doom opus. Like My Dying Bride entangled in a tryst with Nightwish, Codex Gigas is a stunningly macabre epic just in time for Halloween.
Conquer Divide - Paralyzed
Fresh from their recent collaboration with Electric Callboy on Fckboi, Conquer Divide are showing off their own capability for massive earworms with the ultra-addictive Paralyzed. Shimmering notes of electronica mix with heavy metalcore beatdowns, but the true MVP of Paralyzed is the absolutely enormous chorus, an emotional call-to-arms with an explosive crescendo that calls to mind the instant anthem qualities of Spiritbox. No word on when Conquer Divide will be putting out a new album, but Paralyzed certainly has us eagerly waiting.