"Ear Hunters" - October 12th, 2020 Edition

"As the weather grows colder and the nights grow longer, roaming hordes of surly metal acts are scouring the Earth and seeking to invade the fresh ears of new fans!"

· Varg

Hometown: Coburg, Germany EUR

Release: Zeichen

Label: Napalm Records (September 18th, 2020)

Genre: Melodic/Folk Death

For Fans of: Unleashed, Amon Amarth, King of Asgard, Wolfheart, Battlesword, Countless Skies

Possibly sailing in under your prospective, collective ears are Germany’s hidden death metal gem, Varg. Back for a second go-around with Napalm Records, Varg’s seventh full-length Zeichen (“Characters”) also contains a couple of firsts for the long-tenured act. Having swapped out their customary red-and-black-striped body paint for matching sets of Viking woven-leather body armor, Varg seem to possess a more intensified, rustic connection with their Pagan roots now, and have even added a female vocalist to their ranks (Fylgja) to enhance the folky ambience. Overall, Zeichen is an excellent new effort featuring an even more excellent new approach from these Bavarian veterans, so don’t miss out! Rating: 94 / 100 (A)

· Plague Years

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan USA

Release: Circle of Darkness

Label: eOne Heavy (September 18th, 2020)

Genre: Crossover Thrash n’ Death

For Fans of: Power Trip, Ringworm, Psychosomatic, Expander, Paralysis, Raider

Detroit’s Plague Years planned for Circle of Darkness to see the light of day much earlier in 2020, but with eOne Heavy picking up the newly formed thrash quartet just ahead of the initial issue date, the release was moved back in order to bless it with the proper big label backing. Finally unveiled in September, Circle of Darkness is the second LP to be conjured by these Michigan metal maniacs who combine aspects of thrash, death, and crossover to mosh-inducing effect. You can seriously picture the legs of the stage-divers flailing in the air to the thunderous cacophony created by Plague Years, so it’s a shame that touring is on hold currently, because it sure would be fun to experience in person. Circle of Darkness: A finely crafted album for its genre. Rating: 85 / 100 (B)

· Under the Oak

Hometown: Fredrikstad, Norway EUR

Release: Ripped Up by the Roots

Label: WormHoleDeath

Genre: Classic Thrash

For Fans of: Forbidden, Anthrax, Hirax, Overkill, Holycide, Defiatory

Bringing the old school vibrations in piles and mounds are the brand new Norwegian thrash quartet, Under the Oak, whose application of classic-style vocals upon their debut LP, Ripped Up by the Roots, makes you feel as though you’ve stepped through a time warp and wound up back in the late 80’s again. Founded by four experienced veterans of the Fredrikstad scene, Under the Oak sound as if they’d fit perfectly on a bill with legendary acts like Forbidden and Anthrax in their heyday, but instead, they’ve only just coalesced recently in the 21st century. Ripped Up by the Roots may be this act’s first release, but it reeks of maturity and purpose. Great shit. Rating: 88 / 100 (B+)

· The Room Colored Charlatan

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana USA

Release: The Mandate EP

Label: Independent

Genre: Progressive/Melodic Metal

For Fans of: Between the Buried and Me, Carpenter-era The Contortionist, Exist, White Arms of Athena, Without Waves, Ignea

Hated One has been intrigued by the Indianapolis-spawned progressive collective known as The Room Colored Charlatan ever since 2013 and their second LP, Primitives, even going so far as to offer free driveway parking to a couple of their members when they flew out of Chicago to play England’s UK Tech Fest in 2015 (long-term airport parking isn’t cheap, you know?). But after the release of 2017’s brief Awe EP, it sadly appeared that The Room Colored Charlatan might fold up shop for good. Thankfully though, in 2019, The Room Colored Charlatan suddenly reappeared with a ripping new single, a powerful new full-time singer (Jonathan Carpenter, formerly of Exoplanet/Intrinsic-era Contortionist fame), and bearing news of a fresh EP to come in 2020. Well, it’s 2020, and The Mandate EP is finally and officially upon us all!

Seriously, for those of you who’ve been missing Carpenter’s fantastic vocals, The Mandate EP feels like a long-needed reawakening, and his addition to the progressive magnificence of The Room Colored Charlatan’s players can only mean more great things – like this stunning EP – going forward, so get this sublime shit in your ears, like yesterday! Rating: 98 / 100 (A+)

Like what you've read and heard? Then do the right thing, support the bands, share them with your friends, and keep the cycle going! Stay metal! \m/


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