Greetings one and all! This month’s Crusade sees one of the strongest collections of metal we’ve been able to put together in a while, and our apologies go to some other worthy bands who would have made the cut in other months but just couldn’t be squeezed in here. Anyway, enough from me – get stuck in to this lot!

Ironflame Outlaws
Cripes! This column has now been going so long we’re starting to see bands returning from past Crusades! First up this month, then, we welcome back Americans Ironflame, who first graced our pages in June 2017.

Their new album, Tales of Splendor and Sorrow, carries on the fine work of last year; the band create a gloriously traditional sound on this record, based around the sure footed vocalising of Andrew D’Cagna (who does everything on his own in the studio and is augmented for live performances by a four-piece band); Occasionally the slightly cut-price production values let things down a bit, especially on the otherwise-superb Bringer of Fire, but the quality of songwriting here on songs such as galloping tour de force The Contract is really second to none.

If you missed out on last year’s recommendation from us, don’t make the same mistake in 2018! Fans of Savatage, Crimson Glory, Fifth Angel and Iced Earth will lap this up!

warkings outlaws
Next up are shadowy Greek power metallists Warkings, who have a new album due out on Napalm Records next month.

Normally we wouldn’t touch a band coming out on such a big label, but Warkings are so undilutedly metal that we really didn’t feel able to leave them out – especially as one of the key characters on their upcoming debut effort is a Crusader!

Epic power metal is the order of the day for Warkings, their highly melodic hymns of steel coming wrapped in a superb production that allows every instrument to make a telling contribution. They swear allegiance to names like Gamma Ray and Manowar in their biography, but these ears place them somewhere between Firewind and a heavier, less modern-sounding Sabaton.

Whatever, this is top notch stuff – have a listen!

Texas Metal Outlaws
A sort of speed metal supergroup coalescing around Witches Mark/Ignitor alumnus Robert Williams, Texas Metal Outlaws bring the steel in superb style on their debut offering.

The project is graced by names like Watchtower/Ignitor throat Jason McMaster, Manowar founder Ross the Boss, Riot bassist Don Von Stavern and former D.R.I. drummer Felix Griffin; obviously such a stellar lineup isn’t going to get involved with anything half-arsed, so you can be sure that TMO are going to deliver the goods big time on this self-titled debut.

The opening title track has more than a whiff of Von Stavern’s Riot V about it, but there’s plenty of variety on offer throughout the rest of the album if out and out power/speed isn’t your thing.
Malt Liquor Maniac is slower and crunchier, whilst the bass-driven classic metal romp of Within the Spell will have old school diehards frothing at the mouth with its over-the-top authenticity.

This is pure metal, made by metalheads for metalheads. It’s a riot from start to finish (no pun intended), and it’s this month’s album of the month! Get involved!

Dragony outlaws
Back on a more symphonic tip we find Austria’s Dragony, who are set to release their new album, Masters of the Multiverse, later this month.

Pompous to the max (Days of High Adventure wouldn’t sound out of place on the next Avantasia album), rammed with melody yet retaining enough of a cutting edge to keep most metallers interested – especially through the superior lead guitar work of Andreas Poppernitsch and Simon Saito – Dragony are certainly firing on all cylinders on tracks like album opener Flame of Var Talon.

The band have released a video from the album already, for the catchy If It Bleeds We Can Kill It, which shows an altogether different, keyboard-driven side to the band’s sound. Both work well, but I’ve an inkling most crusaders will favour the former over the latter.

Still, even on this more melodic sounding work there’s some razor-sharp soloing, and the final washup shows a band more than worth a bit of your time and attention.

Serpent’s Kiss
Serpent's Kiss outlaws
British/Canadian collective Serpent’s Kiss released their second album, Dragon Lord, on October first and very nice it is too.

Straight-up NWoBHM inspired true metal is what you’ll be getting should you choose to invest in Dragon Lord (which you should); Fans of latterday bands like Monument will find much to enjoy within the album’s grooves, with excellent songs like Innocence really getting the blood pumping. Guitarist Will Philpott has some nice riffs up his sleeve, not to mention some nice fluid solos, and Canadian Vocalist Nikki Wözzo makes all the right moves behind the mic, delivering a self-assured performance that oozes class and ensures that the band’s material is given some real vocal punch.

Dragon Lord isn’t breaking any new ground, but I do believe I haven’t heard British metal with such punch since the last Neuronspoiler and Primitai albums came out. If Serpent’s Kiss turn out to be that good, they’ve got a bright future ahead indeed.

Valentino Francavilla
Francavilla Outlaws
Treviso-based guitarist/singer Valentino Francavilla is dedicated to bringing the shred back to the metal mainstream; recalling the late eighties heyday of this kinda powerful metal, this uber-talented young Italian has played, sung, and recorded everything on this dazzlingly good album!

Basically the word shred tells you all you need to know – this is late eighties power metal, melodic as hell (think Dokken, even White Lion in places), choc full of singalong choruses but also rammed to the gunwhales with fleet-fingered six string firepower.

The title track of Valentino’s new album, Heavy Chains, is quite, quite superb, and I would imagine Sentinel Daily’s resident old metalheads Scott Adams and Gavin Strickmann both getting a little hot under the collar about this track, not to mention the album as a whole.

Whilst this sort of record is always going to appeal more directly to those who aspire to the same sort of axe skill so clearly possessed by Francavilla, there’s still more than enough bombast and sheer metal glory to keep casual punters happy too. Marvellous stuff!

Well, that little lot should keep you going for a while, enjoy!

hail and kill!