In the new issue of Metal Hammer we’re giving away a FREE CD filled with some of the biggest and brightest names in the woad-covered world of battle metal – from Korpiklaani to Visigoth. And if you’re a battle veteran, or a rookie to the scene, here’s your digest of what’s in store on your free 15-track CD…
1. Helloween – Battle’s Won
The power metal pioneers had a tempestuous first half to their career, but the second has been more stable and consistent – as this track from their new, fifteenth album should show. And yes, they’re still all about massive choruses and big guitar solos. Taken from the album My God-Given Right, out June 1 via Nuclear Blast.
2. Blind Guardian – Prophecies
It’s possible no band in heavy metal has history has been able to inspire bigger sing-alongs from their crowds, but if so, there’s only one and they’re called Iron Maiden. The German masters of melody and overdubbed lead vocals are still going strong here. Taken from the album Beyond The Red Mirror, out now via Nuclear Blast.
3. Sabaton – Ghost Division (live)
The band so good live they once headlined a festival to 600,000 people are best experienced in the flesh. Failing that, you can give this live rendition of this The Art Of War favourite a listen, and begin counting down the days to their Bloodstock set. Taken from the DVD Swedish Empire Live, out now via Nuclear Blast.
4. HammerFall – Threshold (live)
In the period when power metal was suffering, HammerFall took up the flag and marched bravely on, and now the genre’s doing rather better, they continue valiantly forth as one of the genre’s biggest names. This crowd favourite should display why. Taken from the DVD Gates Of Dalhalla, out now via Nuclear Blast.
5. Kamelot – Veil Of Elysium
Hugely reinvigorated by new singer Tommy Karevik, the American symphonic prog/power metallers have just made their best album in nearly a decade, and this is one of its high points. Lush melodies, rich textures, and bags of emotion are the band’s hallmarks, and they’re all out in force on this one. Taken from the album Haven, out May 4 via Napalm.
6. Ensiferum – One Man Army
The Finns are one of the name bands in battle metal, and their new record is their best yet, featuring the usual kilt-clad, sword-waving anthems to charge into combat with. Oh, and they also include a song that’s half country, half disco. But this is pure mead-drinking, warpainted epic folk metal, taken from the album One Man Army, out now via Metal Blade.
7. Korpiklaani – Pilli On Pajusta Tehty
No one does Finnish folk quite like Korpiklaani, or quite as well. They certainly don’t make anything more likely to turn crowds across Europe into churning, furious booze-drenched maelstroms of humanity that look like a hairier, non-straight-edge version of a Converge show. Hear this and understand why. Listen with ale. Taken from the album Noita, out May 4 via Nuclear Blast.
8. Heidevolk – Winter Woede
Opening with vocal chants and crunching riffs, these Dutch Viking black metallers could easily be mistaken for Scandinavians from their music, but listen carefully and there’s a distinctively Germanic twang to proceedings that marks them out from the more northerly school. Taken from the album Velua, out now via Napalm.
9. Hammer King – I Am The Hammer King
With a sound that harks of the gods of metal – Priest and Maiden, particularly – and stage moves that make Accept look reserved, this French four-piece are the very musical definition of “muscular”. Music to put on horned helmets and drink beer to, and no mistake. Taken from the album Kingdom Of The Hammer King, out May 8 via Cruz del Sur.
10. Macabre Omen – Rhodian Pride, Lindian Might
This London-based Greek band are somewhere in sound between Summoning’s epic, earthy pagan black metal and the more savage, misty strains of Winterfylleth, all pulled off with a feel of their own and a vocal roar to send half a million Persians scampering back across the Hellespont in terror. Taken from the album Gods Of War – At War, out now via Ván.
11. Fortíð – Galdur
Imagine a cross between Emperor’s majestic I Am The Black Wizards and Eld-era Enslaved, and you’ve got the basis of this song. Now make it as good as that sounds. This Norway-based Icelandic band are a wee bit special, mixing progressive flavours into furious black metal with a Viking tinge. Taken from the album 9, out now via Schwarzdorn.
12. Celtachor – Uaithne: The Dagda’s Harp
These Irishmen play a strain of black metal that is simultaneously gloriously rooted in Irish folk, and sounds very little like Primordial – no small achievement. Earthy and fierce and fiery all at the same time, this certainly doesn’t lack for grit. Taken from the album Nuada Of The Silver Arm, out now via Trollzorn.
13. Árstíðir Lífsins – Aldafǫðr Ok Munka Dróttinn
Switching smoothly from furious, Drudkh-esque foggy ferocity to Viking folk that harks of Wardruna, this frosty Icelandic band are further proof that black metal is far more than necro production, shrieking and Satan. This has depth as well as balls. Taken from the album Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn, out now via Ván.
14. Visigoth – Dungeon Master
Pull on your double denim and prepare for duelling lead guitar lines in minor keys. This Salt Lake City troupe are the point where the NWOBHM and power metal overlap so much, it’s not worth bothering to work out what is what – just bang your head and sing along with the chorus. Taken from the album The Revenant King, out now via Metal Blade.
15. Tengger Cavalry – Tengger Cavalry
This ludicrously prolific Chinese band have released six albums in less than five years, and don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Their crunching, galloping melodeath overlaid with Mongolian folk melodies and instruments will have you saddling up to join the horde. Taken from the album Blood Sacrifice Shaman, out now via Metal Hell.