Greeting! It’s a short-then-usual Crusade this month as we couldn’t find a whole deal that excited us to the levels we’d expect for CoP inclusion, but what we are bringing to you this month is, without exception, absolutely top drawer – enjoy!

First up on the Crusade this month are Traveler, a trio from Alberta in Canada.

A Canadian trio I hear you say! Well, yes, but they don’t really sound like Rush or Anvil, opting instead for a steadfast mix of US power and trad metal that’ll probably have names like Riot and Manilla Road flickering across your brain should you opt to give their new three track demo a spin.

Starbreaker makes for a spirited start, Jean-Pierre Aboud’s vocals dominating a mix that, despite lacking a bit of punch does enough to get the band’s message of metal across. Matt Ries solos heroically, not to mention harmonising with himself in best Maidenesque fashion, and I look forward to hearing a full-length from these boys in the not-too-distant future.

A Cunning Man
A Cunning Man
Scottish duo A Cunning Man have come up with a really interesting three track EP called To Heal A Broken Body. Fusing elements of eighties prog with extreme metal, the band really do make a sound you’ll not have heard before.

At times it’s mix of disparate styles makes thing heavy going, though generally it’s parts of songs which jar rather than full compositions; however the extra effort required to give the EP your full attention is rewarded in the final washup. Intensely idiosyncratic this may be, but it’s also rally rather good. Plus, you can get this off bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ purchase, so there really is no excuse for not taking the plunge – give A Cunning Man a go!

Drace XII
Drace II
Quite different again is The 12th Ceremony from Brazilian power metal act Drace XII. They’ve handed their whole debut album, 2016’s Supreme Legacy, to bassist Anderson Ribeiro who has scored the whole thing for orchestra.

Now, obviously, plenty of bands have had this idea before – I can think of Cradle of Filth and My Dying Bride off the top of my head for starters, not to mention Metallica, obvs – but I don’t think anyone has pulled it off quite so well as Drace XII. The symphonic version of the album simply soars with cinematic drama and orchestral grace, and lifts the material from the album to another level altogether. Well worth a listen!

Reaper’s Revenge
Reapers Revenge

More straightforward are Bavarians Reaper’s Revenge. Powerful, hammering metal is their stock in trade, with pummelling drum battery performed by Klaus Hegen providing a solid backbone for some exciting riffage courtesy of Hermann Weiß and Christopher Knauer. Christian Bösl adds some melodic heft on the vocal front, adding a bit of melody to proceedings, but really RR are all about tight, punishing, musical muscle.

Virtual Impulse is a bit Blind Guardian-y in construction, though with none of the floridity that can sometimes queer the pitch for Kusch and co., and the overall feeling you get from Reaper’s Revenge is that of a band playing well within themselves to maintain a certain level of power and control. With a bit of discipline eased out of the picture, and a bit of freedom let in, this could be quite a special band indeed.

Against Evil
Against Evil
India’s Against Evil purvey a superbly martial strain of melodic power metal that never strays too far from Manowar in execution yet doesn’t suffer at all for its apparent lack of originality.

Fans of Southern European power metal will notice a few traits here and there too – the anthemic All Hail the King has a distinct ‘Greek’ feel to it – but wherever the influences come from they’ve been woven together to create a splendid, booming saturnalia of metal. Noble John’s drums sound frankly superb thanks to a top notch production job from DGM alumnus Simone Mulrone and vocalist Siri sounds like a bright name to follow in the future. Against Evil’s dedication to true metal means that All Hail the King is release of the month!

Tortured Skull
Tortured Skull
Hatfield, Massachusetts is the home of Tortured Skull, a band of crust-enthused ne’erdowells who cook up a mighty racket on their just-released new EP.

If the likes of Vallenfyre and Amebix are your thing, then there’s a lot to get excited about from this band, whose four-track, ten and a half minute exercise in extreme noise terror will have your pleasure receptors thrashing maniacally in response to relentless deathly tracks like Thought Control.

Throw in a few Tom Warrior-approved death grunts along the way and you’ve got yourself a pretty much perfect crust-metal orgy of filth and depravity. Enjoy!

So that’s it for this month – if you think we’ve missed out on any great Crusade-worthy releases here, or if you think your own band has what it takes to make the cut, drop us a line!

See you next month,

hail and kill