It happens every year. Several albums and EP’s get released to virtually no fan fare and are forever lost in a sea of record releases never to get the attention that they deserve. It’s almost impossible to keep up with everything that comes out anymore. Here at Honest Brutality we go through hundreds of releases every month and it’s nowhere near what’s been made available. With that said we were able to find some gems that you may have overlooked and yet are worthy of your attention. Some metal and some hard rock all of which are deserving of your time.
1) Fools’ Brew – “New Machine”
Fools’ Brew has been kicking some metal ass for a long time now with what they describe as “Beer-Soaked Metal”. Their latest effort “New Machine” is the third and strongest EP yet for the boys from Chicago. The opener “The Parade” is a straight up metal showcase for these guys. Everything is tight and moving at a brisk pace and then “POW” vocalist Jarrett O’Cooley lays down some of the craziest vocals you’ll ever hear. F****** epic! The good news is he shares that ability throughout the entire EP (Wait til you hear “Exit Through The Gift Shop”). Not to be outdone, the rest of this band shines as a metal force as well. The combination of Diggs McNasty-Guitar, Cormander-Bass, and Timmy D-Drums work in perfect unison to satisfy even the most cynical metal fan. This band is unafraid to tell it like they see it. The song “Ghostwriters” is a prime example with a full roundhouse kick to the teeth of the music industry and all of it’s bullshit. The song “Unbound” packs a ferocious punch while the powerful track “The Faceless” makes you want to start a riot. In full disclosure, this EP actually dropped at the end of 2018 but was too late to make the list for last year.
2) 7 Mazes – “Revelations”
Hailing from Germany is the powerhouse known as 7 Mazes. Just one listen to these guys and you will realize that they are ready to break through to the masses. The quality of the song writing can not be ignored. From the musicianship to the lyrics these guys are flawless. It should be noted that Max Roxton the lead singer recently won the award for Best German Rock Singer at The German Rock Awards. Pretty impressive for a band that most Americans or the rest of the world for that matter have sadly never heard of. This 15 song collection kicks off with a full punch to the earlobes in the form of “Awake” a straight up hard rock tune that sets the tempo for the entire album. There are several standout songs here. So much so that one begins to wonder why a record company hasn’t snatched these guys up yet and made them a household name. Tracks like “Come Whatever May” have hit written all over them. All of these songs are radio friendly and catchy as hell. Hopefully these guys garner the accolades they deserve soon.
3) Monster God – “Monster God”
Every metal head knows that the San Francisco Bay Area has produced several of the biggest metal bands in the world. That’s no secret. With that said there are a ton of somewhat unknown bands still kickin’ ass there today. Monster God is among them. A three piece band out of the East Bay that has compiled a heavy as f*** metal EP. With Mike Smario vocals/guitar, Mike Kaufman bass and Karl Casolari drums the boys bring what they describe as doom/sludge metal to life as only they can do. The opener “Blood Runs Cold” is a stone cold ass kicker. It’s pure mosh pit material. The next track “Decay” is a haunting delight that let’s you know that these guys mean business. The entire EP is nothing short of metal ecstasy. With only five songs to thrill the listener the boys have made it known that they are currently working on new material that may be available some time in 2020. Let’s hope so.
4) Heavy As Texas – “Heavy As Texas”
One album that flew somewhat under the radar this year was the self titled “Heavy As Texas” album. Considering that the founder and guitar player is none other than the incomparable Marzi Montazeri this caught me a bit by surprise. Some may know Marzi from his time in Superjoint Ritual or Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals. He is currently working with Exhorder and can be heard on their new album “Mourn The Southern Skies” (Another killer album from 2019 by the way). With all that said, Heavy As Texas released a bad ass self titled album early in 2019. With the opening track “To Keep A Promise” you get a real sense of where this album is going. A heavy dose of southern kick ass metal much along the lines of something the almighty Pantera would enjoy. With current Exhorder front man Kyle Thomas handling the vocals you get all the power that one would hope for in a metal album. “Reality Check” is yet another stand out track on this eight song album. When listening to this album you ask yourself how this ever got by without the recognition it so richly deserved.
5) Unprovoked – “Out Of The Ashes”
Unprovoked is back with a vengeance and making up for lost time. Originally formed in the Sacramento area in 1990 this thrash metal band worked the circuit for about 5 years and decided to hang it up around 1995. After a 20 year hiatus they decided to give it another go in 2015. That’s good news for all of us thrash metal fans as the band has returned with “Out Of The Ashes”. The lineup of Darren Chaney(vocals), Devin Manzanares(lead guitar), Cless Limperio(lead guitar), Loren Scott(bass guitar) and Justin Woods(drums) has created an in your face thrash metal gold mine. The first time I heard the opener “My Heart, My Mind” I couldn’t help but throw horns up and scream “F*** YEAH” at the top of my lungs. This album is a reminder of why I love metal. Crunchy guitars, huge rhythm section and angry vocals. Other stand out tracks are “Face The Fear” and “Lost Inside”. Unprovoked sticks to their roots and that’s good for everyone listening. Simply put this thrash album is pure bad ass!
6) Tainted Lady – “Sounds Like Freedom/Feels Like War”
Tainted Lady returns with their second full length album “Sounds Like Freedom/Feels Like War” carrying their signature sound and energy with them. Just like their first album 2017’s “How The Mighty Have Fallen” the boys from Denmark continue their thought provoking lyrical content with a hard rock sound that would fit in any time period from the 60’s to modern day. That’s a difficult task to pull off but they have somehow made it work. This band has some real depth, be it from their vocals and musicianship to their biting lyrics. Bolting out of the gate with “Seven Billion Souls” Tainted Lady sets the stage for a rockin’ good time with a contagious energy that forces the listener to take notice. They can also take it down a notch as displayed in songs such as “Hey Mr. Music Man” and the super catchy “Down To The River”. It’s obvious that these guys are poised for bigger and better things in the near future.
7) Aitherios – “Aitherios”
You want heavy? You want technical? You want in your face no holds barred metal? Here you go. Aitherios is a young band that makes their home in Northern California. Though they have only been around for a short time these ambitious headbangers are not messing around. With their self titled EP you get a glimpse of what these young men can do. From the opening bars of “Awaiting Omnipotence” to the final chords of “A Legacy Of Desolation” it’s neck snapping metal awesomeness. In their own words “Aitherios is poised to conquer the metal world with a sound unlike any other!” After listening to what they have to offer it’s hard to argue against. Aitherios is Chandler Tinder– Vocals, Joseph Goode– Rhythm Guitar, Jacob Davis– Lead Guitar, Tristan Mcgregor– Drums and Brandon Parker– Bass.
8) Mudface – “Awaken To A Different Sun”
True metal fans know that Mudface needs no introduction. They’ve been stomping heads for several years now. Staking a claim to the Bay Area music scene once again with a piece of metal mastery in the form of “Awaken To A Different Sun”. These guys simply know how to write great metal tunes. Don’t believe me? Just listen to the title track. This album is straight mosh material. One can’t help but to go crazy while listening to tracks like “Warhorse” or “End OF My Rope”. This album is a must for any metal fan.
9) Statement – “Force Of Life”
Statement steps up with their third and what I would argue is their strongest album to date with “Force Of Life”. Guitar driven hard rock on the level of “The Scorpions” or “Accept” to name a few. The opening track “The Hero Inside” is a rocking good time with dual guitar licks and a catchy chorus that will have you singing along by the second time through. With songs such as the title track and “Rock Your Heart Out” the boys from Copenhagen will have you bangin’ your head and throwing metal horns throughout the entire album. Statement is Jannick Brochdorf– Lead vocal, Niels Alex Larsen– Lead guitar/vocal, Lars Ulrik Le Fevre–Guitars/vocal, Martin Poulsen–Bass and Daniel Nielsen– Drums.
Rich “Big Sloppy” Markum