Hello again! As you might see, we’ve undergone a small rebranding but this column’s dedication to bringing you the best underground metal remains undaunted! Let’s get straight into the music and I hope you enjoy the bands we have lined up for you in this episode…

Merciless Law Crusades

Today we kick off in Chile with the thrilling, fast-paced metal of Merciless Law; essentially the work of one man, Pancho Ireland, who plays all the stringed instruments and adds a capable vocal presence to the mix too, Merciless Law purvey straight-up heavy metal thunder in fine style.

Whilst Pancho doesn’t go out of his way to break any new ground here, what he does do is add a fresh perspective to the heavy metal template. So whilst tracks like A Matter of Skin may have a familiar ring to them, they are delivered with so much smile-inducing enthusiasm and skill that the listener can’t help but get involved in the sonic saturnalia; it’s simplistic to a certain extent, though that observation is not made to belittle Ireland’s skill, which especially shines on the six-string front, but it’s undeniably energetic and a whole lot of fun to boot. And in Holy Company he’s come up with an album that he should be very proud of. A great way to kick off our new series!

LYZZÄRD crusade
Portugal’s Lyzzärd operate ostensibly in the same sort of musical theatre as Merciless Law, although there’s an undoubted darker edge to their sound, harking back in some ways to the early eighties occult metal of Mercyful Fate – especially when vocalist Tiago Azevedo reaches for the sky in his higher register.

Their sound is bolstered in the excitement stakes by the judicious use of big-sounding gang vocals on Shackles of Justice, which also features some nicely propulsive bass work from Margarida Veiga, whose upfront sound really drives the track forward in tandem with skin beater Luis Ferreira. The band also know how to mix things up in their music, offering crucial element of light and shade on the Dioesque Red Hot, a brooding piece of epic metal that builds nicely on the back of more impressive work from Veiga.

André Ribeiro’s mix gives everybody their chance to shine, not least Ricardo Azevedo, whose guitar presence is crucial to forging the overall Lyzzärd sound. If you love stripped-down, eighties-influenced trad metal then you’ll have a lot of fun with The Abyss. Highly recommended!

Glacier Crusade

US power metal veterans Glacier have been around for a while now, and their last full length album, The Passing of Time, came out a couple of years ago. This month they’ve released a two-track, Bronze Age-inspired EP that’ll certainly get your juices flowing if you love the classic US power metal sounds.

A beefy, muscular sound propels first track Spears of the Empire out of the speakers, and my word what a sound it is! Thundering drums, adamantine guitars and well-placed gang vocals combine to create an absolute stormer of a metal tune, which brings to mind names like Vicious Rumors and Iced Earth in their pomp whilst actually being more appealing than anything those two acts have put out in a while.

Hard-driving ‘B’ side The Word and The Will is possibly even better; Michael Podrybau brings commanding vocals to the table without ever resorting to histrionics, whilst Michael Maselbas and Vincent Ippolito pour on the guitar agony with grim-faced resolution and unrelenting skill. Their six string interplay in the middle of the track is a joy to the ears, bringing Eastern-tinged majesty to proceedings and leaving the listener wishing that there was more than just two tracks to enjoy. This is, as Sentinel Daily editor Scott Adams might say, ‘what they want’. And then some. Release of the month!

Versaux Crusades

Confirming my suspicion that 2023 might be the year to get fully immersed in the Chilean metal scene, here come Versaux with another dose of metal Chileno!

III is the name of their new full-lengther – although, strangely, it’s only their second album release – and very nice it is too. Blessed with a raw, abrasive sound which works well in counterpart to the more melodic vocal take of Sebastian “The Damn” Vásquez, III is an appealing, power-packed offering that runs the full trad metal gamut but isn’t afraid to either take the foot off the pedal when required, or, indeed, heavy things up for the same reason.

The upshot of this is well put-together music like Déjà Rêvé, which features a spectacular mid-section thanks to the guitars of Jorge “Dyon” Perez and Rodrigo “Guty” Gutiérrez, who both play as if their lives depended on it…

The speedy Torres de Marfil is another highlight; here the band reveal a knack for heads-down, no-nonsense riffage harnessed with an off-kilter yet beguiling vocal performance that snares the ear from the get-go and holds the listener in it’s thrall for the duration of the song. It’s highly accomplished stuff, accomplished enough to make the listener keep ;istening to find out where this band is headed next.

Final track Hexe is a bit of a banger too, and if you like your power metal on the rawer side then this may be worth investigstion or, better yet, purchase!

Termination Force Crusades

Featuring vocalist Rich Rutter – you may know him better from UK trad metallers Toledo Steel – Brit rockers Termination Force bring a nice pedigree to their old school thrash metal attack. Rutter’s classic metal approach to vocalisation fits the music well – you may get little nods to names like Agent Steel on the band’s eponymous anthem – but this isn’t a one man band by any means with drummer Neil Anderson especially giving an energetic supporting performance whilst riffmeister Jamie Brooks and bassist David Lovell (also once of Toledo Steel) both acquit themselves well.

Target Locked has a nice Brit metal feel to complement the band’s US and Euro influences with Rutter hitting a note at the end you could only properly label ‘Halfordesque’; At five tracks this EP is just enough to whet the listener’s appetite, and I for one hope they don’t wait too long before they give us another taste of their brand of British steel!