Nuclear Blast wouldn’t be Nuclear Blast if the year 2011 wouldn’t start with a big bang – a couple of them actually! Austrian devil-worshippers BELPHEGOR returned with the death/black metal monster Blood Magick Necromance which managed to hit the German and Austrian album charts. Norwegians SIRENIA took a much softer approach with The Enigma of Life: finest female fronted gothic metal! And of course there also were new family members: legendary revived UK NWOBHM underground icons HELL can from now on call Nuclear Blast their home!
February also proved to be a very varied and diverse month: Finns KORPIKLAANI delivered the ultimate heathen party manifesto with Ukon Wacka, and with Nuclear Blast Clips Vol.1 a massive DVD/Blu-ray video clip compilation reached headbangers` TV sets. And there was a more than surprising reunion when CONDEMNED? – whose Humanoid Or Biomechanoid? marked the second Nuclear Blast release in 1987 – started making music together again: their comeback Condemned 2 Death turned out to be a old school punk / HC assault second to none!
Back with Nuclear Blast were also teutonic thrash legends DESTRUCTION with a sledgehammer called Day Of Reckoning. More thrash metal goodness came from U.S. act FLOTSAM & JETSAM, new members of the NB family – The Cold easily made the jump to the German album charts! Such a jump was also made by DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER who delivered a brilliant hit album with Moral & Wahnsinn which thrilled press and fans alike. And back to Finland: new signing BEFORE THE DAWN killed all genre competition with the dark metal masterpiece Deathstar Rising!
A rather cold early March got heated up by NYHC legends AGNOSTIC FRONT and My Life My Way, a sing-along-stuffed masterpiece with lots of street credibility. Brit shooting stars SYLOSIS took a more modern and metallic approach: Edge of The Earth turned out to be a melodic modern thrash fan-favorite which thrilled not only their British native country!
Another stunner of the month was delivered by Tobias Sammet’s all-star metal opera AVANTASIA, who documented their 2008 world tour that was passed in possibly record-breaking 20 days on the monumental double DVD The Flying Opera. At the end of March, the Swedes of GRAVEYARD made the hearts of every classic rock fan leap for joy when they released their Nuclear Blast debut Hisingen Blues and rightfully entered the charts of their home country on rank one.
The solo debut of ex-Immortal guitarist DEMONAZ let loose the Norse array on March of The Norse. This was the first time that he played the instruments himself since his departure from Immortal due to health reasons, for
which he’s still active as lyricist. Within the following weeks, melodic death metal outfit SCAR SYMMETRY opened our eyes to The Unseen Empire, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT’s mastermind Tom Phillips let us share his Fear of Infinity and the Swiss archangels SAMAEL made the light of the world shine through Lux Mundi.
In May, the motto was “clear the ring for round three“ when the Norwegian quintet CHROME DIVISION prepared for stretching us all down with a 3rd Round Knockout. Nostalgists were attended to by TAROT’s re-release of their debut The Spell of Iron from 1986 under the programmatic title The Spell Of Iron MMXI as well as by another very special delicacy: HELL, the iconic NWOBHM rockers, who weren’t able to achieve the breakthrough in the decade of their founding, released Human Remains nearly thirty years later, which contained of re-recordings of old demos, played by a generation-spanning line-up of original members and new arrivals. The record came in as a real bombshell and caused the international press to go head over heals with eulogies and rave reviews – Human Remains was multiply referred to as “album of the year.” Before the end of the month, an epidemic plague broke out, spreading extremely fast throughout whole Europe and beyond. Before one knew what was happening, each and everyone around was Infected – only excessive head banging could give some relief. HAMMERFALL and their latest album were the ones to blame, which not least manifested
itself in rank 2 of the Swedish charts. MAYAN, the all-star sextet around EPICA-grunter and guitarist Mark Jansen, could release its symphonic technical death metal debut Quarterpast, after they had been able to achieve a record deal with Nuclear Blast because of their convincing demo recordings. AMORPHIS delivered album number ten within their more than 20 years lasting career. With The Beginning of Times, the masters of melancholic melodies were able to enter the pole position of the Finnish charts.
The old truism “you only live once” got corrected at the beginning of June by all-round talent Peter Tägtgren and his industrial metal combo PAIN. Another record full of danceable but at the same time rock-hard compositions convinced every lover of electronic flavored metal that the saying would have to be You Only Live Twice from now on.
2011 didn’t only bring a new front man for US death metal outfit ORIGIN, but also a deal with Nuclear Blast. Subsequently, Entity, the fifth album of the band from Topeka, Kansas, was released on the 10th of June. With From Chaos To Eternity, RHAPSODY OF FIRE, inventors of “Film Score Metal“ and uncontested metal gods of Italy, put a brilliant end to their Emerald Sword Saga that had begun 15 years ago, SYMPHONY X painted a threatening future for mankind on Iconoclast and the Brazilian thrash band SEPULTURA released a highly energetic new album named Kairos.
Meteorologically seen, the summer of 2011 may have been predominantly disappointing at the European HQ, but numerous high-class releases consoled for the low temperature and at least brought our ears a considerable heat wave. Death grind outfit LOCK UP, consisting of renowned musicians of the genre, fired the starting pistol for a month full of releases with their Necropolis Transparent album on the 1st of July. DECAPITATED made their Nuclear Blast debut with Carnival Is Forever, whereas Norwegian progressive trio COMMUNIC could already refer to four publications via the Donzdorf based metal giants. Another all-star project unleashed its long-desired debut: Tactical by WORLD UNDER BLOOD offered sophisticated melodic death metal at its best. At the end of the month, Californian extreme metal act ALL SHALL PERISH showed us that This Is Where It Ends.
VADER, belonging to the spearhead of Poland’s death metal scene since the 80’s, bid us Welcome To The Morbid Reich in August. Shortly afterwards, Swedish epic power metal warriors SABATON celebrated the world premiere of the band’s very first live album World War Live – Battle of The Baltic Sea. After the big success of their second album, classic rockers GRAVEYARD decided together with Nuclear Blast to re-release their sought debut Graveyard.
At the same time, another newcomer was welcomed to the Nuclear Blast family. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE from Italy were able to fascinate the international press with their thrilling mixture of death metal and classical elements even before the release of Agony. Euphoria is pre-programmed when Tobias Sammet and his combo EDGUY are about to reveal another masterpiece. It’s no wonder that Age of The Joker with its compositional ingenuity and a dash of Sammet’s characteristic humor was highly acclaimed by both critics and fans.
Dualism, the fourth studio album by Dutch progressive metallers TEXTURES marked the band’s Nuclear Blast debut album, while Sweden’s CIPHER SYSTEM brought the classic Gothernburg-sound back to life with Communicate The Storms.
The haunting month of October resurrects Canadian modern thrash metallers THREAT SIGNAL with their self-titled third release, and together with a new line up they pushed the boundaries of extremities and took themselves where aggression met its match! The ghostly month also summons a CD+DVD release to the USA office entitled, Evermore Darkly… all the way from UK’s CRADLE OF FILTH.
The end of the year brings the arctic climates upon us, so who better to invite into our homes than Finland’s SONATA ARCTICA and all their icy glory! However, all ice must melt sometime so watch as they blast it away with some intense pyro-play in the 2DVD+2CD release, Live In Finland. As said, everything has its opposite effect, and with extreme cold comes extreme heat. What better way to prove this than with the fiery pits of Hell Over Sofia: 20 Years of Chaos and Confusion (2CD+DVD) by Sweden’s HYPOCRISY, giving you full coverage spanning Hypocrisy's career. After you've seen it, there will be nothing more to add or ask!
September turned out to be the month of the Nuclear Blast debutants. The Czech combo SEVEN broke the first ground, whose “Freedom Call” with influences of RAGE and BRAINSTORM acquired vogue expeditiously. Swedish melodic death metallers CIPHER SYSTEM went about it a great deal harder and were able to bear comparison with their genre-mates and fellow countrymen of SOILWORK on their new album “Communicate The Storms” in the eyes of many pressmen. According to the spirit of the times, modern metal respectively metalcore shouldn’t go short of course, so it was served justice in a triple pack: WE CAME AS ROMANS, TASTERS and TEXTURES were a dab hand at defying their competitors with their sweeping mixture of bare-knuckle brutality and catchy melodies! But also long-established warriors reported back to the public: legendary US-thrashers ANTHRAX rendered homage to heavy metal with an album full of brilliant high-end compositions, so that “Worship Music” will be remembered as a true musical manifesto for all eternity. GOTTHARD didn’t only end the month but also closed a big chapter of the band’s history with the release of their live album “Homegrown – Alive In Lugano“. After the tragical accidental death of Steve Lee in October of 2010, who had led the Swiss hard rockers since the year one, the release of this last recorded concert of the band of July 2010 represented the exceptional singer’s legacy, before the band started to face the future and began searching for a new vocalist.
Previous month’s tendency to more modern sounds was continued in October by THREAT SIGNAL and TEXAS IN JULY, though both bands flavoured their albums ”Threat Signal” resp. “One Reality” with an even bigger amount of harshness than their label mates had done before. Swedish death metal experts HYPOCRISY celebrated their 20th anniversary in the form of a big DVD+2CD-release, including video footage from the concert in Sofia, Bulgaria as well as an extensive band documentary that really lived up to the title’s name “20 Years Of Chaos And Confusion”! Never before had the fans been provided insight behind the curtains as deeply as this time. Subsequently, Italian dark metal originators GRAVEWORM let us have a share in their reversion to their musical roots through “Fragments Of Death” and HARDCORE SUPERSTAR – inventors of street metal – delivered an overview on the classics of their discography plus the ideal soundtrack for every boozy rock’n’roll party with “The Party Ain’t Over Til We Say So”!