Label Roundup: Nuclear Blast Records – Northtale, Suffocation, & Hammerfall (Reviews)

Wonderbox Metal gets sent a lot of new music, (which is great), but there’s no way that everything can get covered unfortunately, (which is not so great). This new column hopes to redress this balance, if only slightly, by taking a look at a handful of releases that a record label has recently sent out that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

Nuclear Blast is a record label that should need very little introduction, as the label has released so many classic albums over the decades. As such, lets just dive right in to some of their latest releases…

Northtale - Eternal FlameNorthtale – Eternal Flame – Power Metal – International

I enjoyed the first Northtale album, Welcome to Paradise. On Eternal Flame the band have returned with a new singer, and the album sounds both energised and accomplished. The new singer has a very strong voice too.

A shade heavier than previously, and with a greater emphasis on riffs on occasion, the album offers a very enjoyable listening experience. There is a decent amount of variety of influences and styles, all tied up in a very approachable and uplifting power metal bow. It’s a highly orchestral record in places too, but without going overboard.

There’s also a guest spot from the singer of Gamma Ray, and cover of Judas Be My Guide by Iron Maiden.

Eternal Flame is a solid album of power metal goodness. Recommended for any fans of the style.

Suffocation - Live in North AmericaSuffocation – Live in North America – Death Metal – United States

This next release is a live one from legendary death metallers Suffocation. Documenting their last tour with their now-retired singer, Live in North America contains almost an hour of the band at their surgical best.

The band’s tight brutality is captured with a powerful, professional recording. The ‘best of’ setlist contains a lot of classic cuts, all flawlessly played and delivered with a full, modern sound. In some ways it’s hard to believe this is even a live album, it is that well-performed and polished. It should go without saying that the singer provides a great performance; his voice is deep and evil.

I like the occasional live album, and Love in North America is better than most; this is damn good stuff. Check this out.

Hammerfall - Renegade 2.0Hammerfall – Renegade 2.0 – Heavy Metal – Sweden

Hammerfall are another legendary band, and Renegade 2.0 is a remixed version of their 2000 album Renegade. Full disclosure: I haven’t heard the original. The re-release has a few different versions, with a bunch of extra stuff depending on which one you get, but I’ve only heard the remixed album itself.

So what do we get? 47 minutes of high quality heavy metal, with lots of melody, epic songwriting, and classic choruses. Despite not having heard the original, I can say that Renegade 2.0 has a really good, well-rounded sound. And as for the music…well, it’s a shame I’m hugely late to this party, (21 years late…), as this is a great album full of great songs.

If you haven’t heard this, or even if you have, make sure you listen to it. Renegade 2.0 is traditional heavy/power metal as it is meant to be done.

There are a couple of the remixed tracks here, and a classic live version of the title track below –

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