Welcome one and all of you to a New Year and a new season of Shrapnel!

We’re hoping against hope that a little normality might re-enter our lives in 2022, and that there will be a bumper harvest of metal news to bring you over the next twelve months. But that’s enough from me – As Vince Neil might say – on with the show!

First up for 2022 we have semi-legendary Danes Metal Cross! Thirty-eight years after their first rehearsal, seven years after their now mythical concert reunion at the Metal Magic Festival, this cult heavy metal band is now ready to announce its first studio album, Soul Ripper. The upcoming and long-awaited full-length record shows a band on top of their game, melting together the classic heavy metal of their now much sought-after eighties demos Crucifying The Virgins and M.A.D.H.O.U.S.E. with a renewed power and energy. It will indeed rip your soul and leave you thirsty for more from this Scandinavian heavy metal powerhouse.

During the eighties and prior to the break up after the bands last concert in the hometown of Randers on December 16, 1989, the band recorded those two demos and contributed to a couple of compilation albums, and shared scenes with other major danish metal bands such as Artillery and Invocater. And then – nothing…

…Until 2014, that is, when the band released a self-titled compilation featuring the two demos and live recordings from the early days of Metal Cross. As often happens, this release renewed interest in the band, and Metal Cross was persuaded to play a single gig at the Metal Magic Festival that very same year. Prior to the festival performance, the band played a warm-up gig for Artillery. After twenty six years, Artillery and Metal Cross stood on the same stage one more time! The two shows exceeded all expectations, and Metal Cross was back in full action again, and has played several festival gigs in Denmark and always with great feedback from the audience.

Which leads us to the here and now, and a new album! Soul Ripper will be released on LP (marbled orange/black and marbled grey/white vinyls, each limited to three hundred units), CD and digital formats via the From The Vaults label on February 25th, 2022. Excitement overload!

Another band on the comeback trail are Pittsburgh’s Mantic Ritual, who have a new EP set for release through the M-Theory Audio label later this month!

Performing initially under the name Meltdown, the group began building a buzz with Northeast heavy metal fans over the next two years with their combination of boundless thrash enthusiasm and superb songsmanship. The band moved across the country to Los Angeles in 2007, where performances alongside leaders of the then-budding Southern California thrash revival such as Warbringer, Fueled By Fire, and Merciless Death earned them attention from discerning metal audiences and a record deal with Nuclear Blast Records.

The group soon changed their name to Mantic Ritual, and released their first – and so far only – full-length record Executioner in March 2009. The band followed up the release of Executioner with live touring alongside heavy metal titans such as Rotting Christ and Destruction, before dissolving in 2010.

The unveiling of new track Crusader – which you can hear below – is only the beginning of this exciting new chapter in the story of Mantic Ritual. More information on new music from the group will be unveiled in the months to come by M-Theory Audio!

Seattle heavy metal practitioners Dark Meditation will release their Polluted Temples full-length via Satanik Royalty Records January 28th.

The band may hail from Seattle, but their sound is steeped in traditions associated with other corners of the globe—England’s working-class cities, frosty Scandinavian towns, Southern Californian meccas of the eighties. Or as the band puts it, DM sounds like the bastard amalgamation of Venom and Judas Priest fighting it out on the Sunset Strip while Danzig and King Diamond cheer them on! While such reference points may suggest a nexus of evil kitsch and arena-level theatrics, the band’s debut album Polluted Temples comes from a place of down-and-out urgency and punk ethics, adopting the gloomy anthems and riff worship of heavy metal titans for their sonic exorcisms rather than their rock n’ roll panache. It’s an album that basks in big hooks, righteous guitar work, and an arena-level stomp without compromising any grit, grime, or guts.

Originally conceived by vocalist A.D. Vick, guitarist Rane, and guitarist/synth player Ian as a recording project intended to provide personal catharsis, the band came to serve as a crucial artistic outlet for the entire five-piece band — a salve during trying times. Along with compatriots J.W. Mullett (bass), and Will Klintberg (drums), the founding trio poured four years of blood, sweat, and equity into Polluted Temples, though the inner-band relationships go back even further.

Recorded over two weeks during Seattle’s record-breaking heatwave of June 2021 by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Soundgarden), Polluted Temples is the culmination of nearly half a decade’s worth of work. Not only does it represent a triumph over recent adversities, it serves as a negation of ingrained prejudices and social mores. “Most of our songs deal with personal consequences of our actions and how it effects the world around us,” Vick says of his lyrics. “But there is also the looming spectre of evangelical Christianity that I was brought up in and trying to break away from the dogmatic concepts that were pushed upon me in childhood.”

Greek metal stalwart Bob KatsionisSymmetric Records are proud to present the return of an underground cult legend: Validor!

Having already released three studio albums: In Blood In Battle (2011), Dawn Of The Avenger (2012) and Hail To Fire (2016) and the re-issue of their debut album in 2020, it is about time to move on to their next chapter.

Full Triumphed, the band’s new album, continues the epic journey of Validor! The band is led by guitarist/singer/songwriter Odi “Thunderer” Toutounis and once again we get nine new chapters telling stories of War, Ancient Greek Heroes, Roman Gladiators, Gods and Demons and even iconic eighties culture legends like the Silverhawks or Robocop on the track Man Of Steel!

Musically we got the epic storytelling of bands like Virgin Steele and Bathory, whilst the raw power and big sound of Manowar are here combined with the galloping guitars of Iced Earth, plus the Dorian melodies of Running Wild and Blind Guardian and even some thrash and speed metal passages to form the truly unique sound of Validor: Blood Metal!

In the words of Katsionis: “I’ve been working with Odi since 2009. While looking like a guy who listens to nothing by Manowar, Odi carries a background of musical influences spanning from early black metal to Greek composers like Manos Hadjidakis or Basil Poledouris and from King Diamond to Death, Kreator, and Megadeth! So, making music with a guy with such an open mind and a clear target of what he wants to achieve, is nothing but a pleasure. His sense of melody and groove is also second to none! I also admire his desire to sing the songs all by himself even if he’s not your typical “epic metal singer”. The way he spits out every word is so meaningful and powerful that it could not be replaced by anyone. And for me, this is what makes projects like Validor so special through time.”

Producer Bob Katsionis handles the lead guitar, bass, and keyboard duties once more and the line-up is completed by drummer Apollo Giannoulis.