APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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BLOODBATH Announce Surprise New Vocalist

Swedish all star death metal band, BLOODBATH, have announced PARADISE LOST‘s Nick Holmes as successor for the vocalist spot left vacant by Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Tatgren. Their fourth album, Grand Morbid Funeral, comes out on November 18 through Peaceville Records.

Blakkheim (guitar) commented, “Little did I expect to be working with the voice behind the death metal classic Lost Paradise, or the genre defining Gothic, and yet here we are decades later fulfilling another death metal dream. With his sinister and ominous vocal delivery, it’s an absolute pleasure to make Old Nick the bell-ringer in Bloodbath‘s Grand Morbid Funeral!”

Jonas Renkse (bass) commented, “Ever since I got into Lost Paradise back in ’90, Nick Holmes has been one of my favorite growling vocalists out there. He was always audible and articulate but still deep and definitely morbid. It is a great pleasure to work with him some 25 years later after I was introduced to his thunderous roar!”

Can’t wait to hear Nick Holmes do his great death vocals again.

THE HAUNTED – Eye of the Storm

thehaunted.eyeofthestormNearly three years and three band members replaced and THE HAUNTED appear ready to atone for their previously subpar releases.  If the three songs on Eye of the Storm are any indication of where the band’s head is at, then it’s time to rejoice.  On this 7″, THE HAUNTED are back to doing what they do best: thrashing better than any band on the planet.

Generally speaking, THE HAUNTED reclaim the sound and style of their first three or four albums.  Interestingly, this digital single/7″ only gets faster with each song.  “Eye of the Storm” is a muscular song which features those sweet but short dynamics and touch of  melancholy that has made the band stand out during their career.  The intro riff on “Infiltrator” is just one of the sweetest metal riffs you’ll ever hear.  So damn good.  Finally, “My Enemy,” is a scorcher complete with Kerry King-like guitar whammy bar action.

Not only is Eye of the Storm a must for fans of the band, it’s a great reason to get excited for the next full-length.  (Century Media Records)

AT THE GATES Finally Announce the Obvious: They are Officially Back

Swedish death metal legends AT THE GATES are officially back.  With a reunion tour that hasn’t ended for years, the band have announced that they are working on a comeback studio album.  It is expected to be released worldwide by the end of 2014 via their new label partner Century Media Records.

AT THE GATES checked in with the following comment statement:

“So, here we are almost 24 years since the birth of AT THE GATES, and some 18+ years since our latest album ‘Slaughter Of The Soul‘. A lot of years have passed and we have embarked on some life-changing reunion tours and shows the last couple of years. So, why make a new album you might ask, and why now? Well, what we learned from the last couple of years hanging out and playing shows together, is that we enjoy what we do to the fullest extent. We love playing music together, and we love to hang out as friends. But, as a musician, we constantly write new music. It’s a huge part of our identities.

“We are fully aware that we have made some very drastic statements in interviews as well as the closing words on the DVD about the longevity of AT THE GATES, but things change, situations change and people change. When Anders sent the first song last summer, we had zero expectations of the outcome. We only knew one thing – That it sounded amazing! At the time we weren’t even sure there would be an album, but as things progressed, more songs came into existence, and we knew we were on to something great.

“We know you are all curious about the new material, and to make a simple explanation of where we are at musically, we would describe it as a perfect mix between early AT THE GATES & ‘Slaughter of the Soul‘-era AT THE GATES, trying to maintain the legacy and the history.

“We chose Century Media as a worldwide partner for the upcoming album. We have all been friends for years with people at the label. Jonas & Anders have a history with THE HAUNTED there (as well as Adrian with PARADISE LOST).

“So, we hope to bring you updates about the progress of the new album soon. The plan is to record the album in June/July with a tentative release in October / November of 2014 on Century Media Records.”

–AT THE GATES, January 27, 2014

Check out the band’s teaser (which does not provide any new music):

Death Metal Supergroup VALLENFYRE Jumps into the Studio

VALLENFYRE has officially entered the studio to record their second full-length album and follow-up to 2011’s A Fragile King entitled Splinters.

Gregor Mackintosh (vocals and lead guitars) comments: “We have now arrived in a very cold Salem, MA and are currently holed up in Godcity Studio with producer Kurt Ballou tracking drums for our second album, ‘Splinters‘. We are really digging Kurt‘s honest, old-fashioned approach to recording. No triggers or samples. Just a good drum kit, good mics and a good drummer.”

In 2011, Gregor Mackintosh (PARADISE LOST) announced that he would go back to his death metal roots with his new band, VALLENFYRE. The level of expectation was set high with a line-up consisting of Hamish Glencross (guitar – MY DYING BRIDE), Scoot (bass – DOOM, EXTINCTION OF MANKIND), Adrian Erlandsson (drums – AT THE GATES, PARADISE LOST, THE HAUNTED) – and of course, Gregor on vocals (for the first time in his career!). Their debut, A Fragile King, was a reference to Gregor‘s father’s (lost) battle with cancer.

Check out the music video for “Cathedrals of Dread” from their debut:


The Epic Kings and Idols Tour hit Los Angeles to a packed house.  Anticipation and enthusiasm were high. The merch booths were selling well as the crowd was littered with brand new shirts, particularly of KATATONIA and the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT.

LA’s very own STOLEN BABIES were first up with their eccentric brand of heavy music.  Always up for a challenge in front of a straight up metal crowd, the band bashed through their set with all the charisma and energy that they show on their headlining shows.  It’s always cool to see  first time spectators have a bewildered look on their faces as they watch this crazy band that looked like they jumped out of the Beatlejuice movie.  They played a few songs off of their upcoming album, Naught, which sounded right at home with their debut, There Be Squabbles Ahead.  Vocals were a bit low in the mix but still a sweet performance.

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The “Epic Kings & Idols Tour,” set for a September 2012 North American run, will feature  co-headliners, THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT and KATATONIA, direct support from PARADISE LOST, and opening duties from STOLEN BABIES.  Needless to say, this line up is absolutely killer.  Don’t miss out on STOLEN BABIES.  They were rudely excluded from the official press release of the tour.

PARADISE LOST Begins Recording New Album Tragic Idol

After taking a trip back in time with the Draconian Times MMXI DVD/live album (the London legacy show of their classic album from 1995) and also guitarist Gregor Mackintosh‘s return to his doom/death metal roots with VALLENFYRE, PARADISE LOST is recording their 13th studio album.

Gregor Mackintosh (lead guitar) comments, “We are currently holed up in The Chapel studios in Lincolnshire, England recording our new album which is entitled Tragic Idol. The album will again be produced by Jens Bogren and is influenced by classic doom metal and classic metal. I would say it is more melodic than the last record whilst retaining the heaviness. There are lots of guitar solos and melodies. The album will contain such track titles as ‘Honesty in Death,’ ‘Theories from Another World,’ ‘In this We Dwell‘ and the title track ‘Tragic Idol.'”

Tragic Idol is scheduled for a worldwide release through Century Media Records on April 23rd, 2012 in Europe and April 24th, 2012 in North America.

APESHIT’s Top Albums of 2009

It’s that time where we take a look back on the year as 2009 comes to a close. So we, the APESHIT goons, asked ourselves, what albums moved us, kicked our asses, and reminded us of why we love metal (and music)? Read on for our top albums of 2009…
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PARADISE LOST – Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us

With Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, it might be safe to say that PARADISE LOST are incapable of disappointing their fans. Rock solid – their new album is simply a joy to listen to. Stylistically, Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us is noticeably heavier, more aggressive, and faster than its predecessor, In Requiem. There are some straight up death metal parts done PARADISE LOST-style. Vocalist Nick Holmes also employs a harsher vocal bite on some songs as well. One could say that the band have reached further back to the roots of the band to take on this approach. Magic moments and inspiration are all over Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us as basically every song is catchy, vibrant, and soulful. A weak point cannot be found. This is the kind of album that gives you the immediate feeling in your gut that this is bloody great. There is really not much else to explain beyond that. Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us is absolutely world class music that is capable of competing with any other great metal album released this year. All bow down to the masters of gothic doom metal! (Century Media Records)