CJ Lines is a metalhead, writer, podcaster, ninja historian, award-winning pie-maker and unrepentant Six Feet Under fan. Somebody has to be. He’s written two books. He lives in Sheffield, U.K. Find out more at http://www.cjlines.com/


Week ending October 31st, 2021

1) Ad Infinitum – Chapter II

If you like your metal raw, underproduced, gritty and atonal… then Ad Infinitum are NOT a band for you. Their second album is more polished, symphonic and loaded with pop melodies than ever. Melissa Bonny still lets rip with a few of her trademark death growls but, those aside, Chapter II exists at the joyous glittery crossroads where Eurovision and metal collide. Every song is an earworm that will invade your brain and take up residence there. The soaring, catchy choruses will eat away at you until you can’t fight them. It’s addictive beyond reason. And you may even learn some history while you’re getting your fix, as Chapter II tells the story of Vlad The Impaler, the same way Chapter I took its concept from Louis XIV. Educational and nutritious metal treats.

2) Cradle of Filth – Existence is Futile

It’s Halloween weekend so it’d be wrong not to throw on some tunes from the spooky season’s favourite sons. Existence Is Futile definitely marks a return to Cradle of Filth’s heights, bringing in a lyrical and musical aggression they’ve not had before. It’s a collection of breakneck speed, brutal, symphonic anthems that combining death metal technicality with lavish gothic atmosphere. This should be an essential listen for ANY extreme metal fan, there’s not even half a weak track on here. It’s a colossus.

3) Whitechapel – Kin

Deathcore’s scrappy little brothers came of age in 2019 with The Valley, an album that saw them leap headlong into experimentation and come out with a uniquely deep and dark masterpiece. Following that was always going to be a challenge but Kin rises to it, continuing in the same style but adding a confidence that wasn’t there before. If The Valley felt like Whitechapel stepping tentatively into a new phase of their career, Kin feels like a proud charge forward as they smash past the competition. They’re on fire right now and they know it. This is brutal stuff but not without its moments of introspective beauty and Phil Bozeman’s lyrics are some of the most intelligent, powerful and affecting out there right now – an exorcism of emotion, unrecognisable from the band’s early work.

4) Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Senjutsu’s been in my weekly top tens for a while now but I just can’t seem to stop spinning it. For an album that was just “okay” on first listen, that’s quite a testament to its hidden depths and staying power. If you’re still struggling with the long song structures, just do me a favour and sit for 12.5 minutes with The Parchment on and no distractions, then tell me it’s not a work of pure metal art. There are some chord changes and vocal heights in that song that give me goosebumps all over, something I haven’t had from Maiden in a long while. This is a truly special record.

5) Charlotte Wessels – Tales From Six Feet Under

Ex-Delain frontwoman Charlotte Wessels serves up a feast of genre-bending goth-pop in her first solo offering, a compilation of songs recorded in her basement originally just for members of her Patreon page. Luckily, she saw fit to share them with the rest of the world as this really is an astonishing piece of work. For fans of good old-fashioned songwriting and tunes that take you all the way through the darkness and back out again into the light.

6) Lucifer – Lucifer IV

This kind of female-fronted stoner doom act sometimes feels like a one-trick pony that ran out of appeal at least a decade ago but Lucifer are keeping the flame burning hard. There’s a lot of prior experience under their collective bullet belts (from bands like Entombed and The Oath) and Lucifer channel that into memorable songcraft, rather than just the usual 60s pastiche. The result is an album that sounds like Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac pummeling each other in a demolition derby – a glorious fuzzed up noise with eeevil riffs and solos that would do their devilish namesake proud.

7) Hand of Kalliach – Samhainn

Another perfect seasonal listen, this time brought to my attention by our very own Lindsay C, who reviewed it earlier this week. Hand of Kalliach are a two-piece act from Scotland, who blend Celtic folk and blackened death metal to highly atmospheric effect. This is an album you can really get lost in, be it in the lyrical magicks or the expansive sound; it’s a properly immersive experience. I find a lot of “atmospheric” metal can feel directionless, like one endless minor key echo, but Samhainn has incredibly well-developed songs within the darkness. The fact that this is Hand of Kalliach’s debut is remarkable. It gives far more established extreme metal acts a serious run for their money and is a reminder of how much talent is still simmering deep in the underground.

8) Carcass – Torn Arteries

Carcass – on the other (severed) hand – are a bunch of old hands that, no matter how long they’ve been established and how much they’ve achieved, never seem to run out of fuel. Yes, it’s a unique kind of nightmare fuel, mixed from ghoulish lyrics and melodic death metal brutality but damn, the Carcass meat train just keeps running and running on that stuff. Torn Arteries is easily one of the strongest death metal releases of the year and stands up to many repeated listens.

9) Draconicon – Dark Side Of Magic

If you like Rhapsody of Fire, you’re going to love the similarly magical path trodden by power metal quintet Draconicon. A concept album rooted in dragons and sorcery, Dark Side Of Magic is a melodic treat for the ears that will generate a massive nostalgia buzz for anyone reared on tabletop role playing games. It’s easy to get this genre wrong and play things for laughs like Gloryhammer but when it’s done well like this, it can be a pure and wonderful escapism. The tunes here are fantastic, played with sincerity and energy and a lovely, rich production sound. Definitely one that power metal fans should check out – you’ll get a +2 strength modifier just from pressing play!

10) Vomit Bag Squad – Tales From The Bag

Clinging on to the list because I just can’t let it go, this tongue-in-cheek thrash party album from Brazil’s charmingly named Vomit Bag Squad is an absolute belter. Musically, it’s a good time in the vein of Municipal Waste, Gang Green and D.R.I. but lyrically there’s a horror movie obsession that makes it – you guessed it – PERFECT for Halloween week. Stick this one at your party and you’re guaranteed a great time. Everyone will be vomiting pea soup, spinning their heads 360 degrees and walking like a crab by the end of the night.


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